When “Accidental Racist,” Brad Paisley’s new collaboration with LL Cool J featured on the country superstar’s new “Wheelhouse” album, was officially released on Monday (April 8), the media’s reaction to the song was… dubious, at best. Paisley and LL are not the first country-rap collaborators — shout-out to Nelly and Tim McGraw! — but the new song’s subject matter awkwardly attempts to address unspoken discrimination by offering a quick fix to centuries-long tension. “Accidental Racist” carries good intentions, but Paisley’s latest track fails to become more than a flat-footed apology for hate-induced uneasiness.
However, if “Accidental Racist” was simply a Paisley solo track with some oddly drawn themes, social media wouldn’t have called out the song with such universal puzzlement upon its release. Rather, it’s LL Cool J’s verse and song-capping ad-libs that turn “Accidental Racist” into unintentional comedy. Again, the veteran MC’s heart is in the right place, but his proclamations regarding the history of slavery and the solution to racial tension are downright bizarre. Compared to Paisley’s broad lyrical brushstrokes like “I’m proud of where I’m from, but not everything we’ve done,” LL Cool J’s words arrive with the subtlety of a lead pipe. LL Cool J is arguably one of the greatest New York rappers of all time, but when he talks about fixin’ the Mason-Dixon, well… do Ladies Love Out-Of-His-Element James?
Without further ado, here are the 10 craziest lines spouted by LL Cool J, in the two minutes-plus that he appears on “Accidental Racist”:
10. “I’d love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air”
This actually isn’t that crazy when taken out of context — who doesn’t enjoy settling problems over a gifted beer and some good conversation? But then, you realize that Cool James is offering to “clear the air” with this white man about the entirety of racial tensions within the United States. It’s an ambitious goal, sure, but one that sounds like it needs more than one beer — maybe it should have been “I’d love to buy you a pitcher,” instead!
9. “So when I see that white cowboy hat, I’m thinkin’ it’s not all good”
If LL Cool J became alarmed every time he saw a white cowboy hat, it would be fairly difficult for him to present any of the country categories at the Grammy Awards. What he’s saying is crystal-clear, but bafflingly clunky.
8. “If you don’t judge my do-rag/I won’t judge your red flag”
A fair exchange, to be sure.
7. “I want you to get paid but be a slave I never could”
Here’s where things start to get especially daffy. LL Cool J is saying that he wants white people to have the ability to make money, but that he really doesn’t want slavery to come back. “I never could!” he declares, in regards to becoming a slave, which no sane person in 2013 would ever suggest. This line may be a forced rhyme, but still sticks out as a particularly bonkers sentiment.
6. “The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin'”
Did you know that, in the 2006 film “Rocky Balboa,” Rocky’s opponent is named Mason Dixon, and his nickname is “The Line”? That’s a pretty great detail in an underrated “Rocky” installment. This LL Cool J line, however, is stomach-churning.
5. “Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood”
“Dear Mr. White Man” is a regrettable way to begin a letter, but is an even worse way to begin a rap verse. We can deduce that Mr. Cool J is addressing white people as a whole throughout his bars, so he definitely doesn’t need a vague clarifier like “Dear Mr. White Man.” And how can he wish that this White Man “understood” when he doesn’t even have the courtesy to assign him a believable name? Props to Mrs. White Woman, though, for avoiding LL Cool J’s lyrical wrath.
4. “I wasn’t there when Sherman’s March turned the south into firewood”
For LL Cool J to have been alive for Sherman’s March, he would have to be 148 years old. There’s never been any debate that LL Cool J wasn’t alive during the Civil War, so no need to go “on the record” here.
3. “Feel like a newfangled Django, dodgin’ invisible white hoods”
The phrase “dodgin’ invisible white hoods” is thematically on-the-nose, actually — in four words, LL captures the feeling of anxiety he’s been trying to convey throughout the song. Yet the shoehorned assonance of “newfangled Django” destroys what comes next, as a reference to a Tarantino concoction is paired with an adjective that doesn’t really apply at all here.
2. “RIP Robert E. Lee but I’ve gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean”
LL Cool J offers a HUGE shout-out to the Confederate Army general, which is absolutely something that few people — even historians! — probably ever expected or wanted him to do, but then he steps back, pauses, swivels around and applauds Abraham Lincoln for freeing African-Americans after the Civil War — if you know what he means. Oh man. LL Cool J is playing both sides! There are surely steps that people of different creeds and colors can take to ensure more tranquility in our society other than quickly big-upping a long-dead Civil War commander.
1. “If you don’t judge my gold chains/I’ll forget the iron chains”
Probably the most downright offensive line in “Accidental Racist,” the couplet suggests that, if LL Cool J’s gold jewelry can be overlooked, so can all of slavery. Maybe… “forget” is the wrong verb to use in this line? Does anyone really want to “forget” the horrors of slavery instead of learn from them? There was never a chance of saving this line, but more than any other in the song, this one smacks of utter laziness.