Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Accidental Racist": At least it's not "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk."

So . . . it seems the moment has come.  The explosive response to Brad Paisley and LL Cool J's "Accidental Racist" shows that country and hip hop still have a lot of . . . things to discuss with one another, let's say.  In the song, Paisley defends his wearing of the Confederate Flag "because he's a Skynrd fan," while LL offers to "forget about the iron chains" of slavery if white country boys will just stop thinking of him as a criminal because of how he dresses.  So yeah, there are a lot of problems, but at least the song is sincere, and a real dialogue.

By contrast, a few years back I was fascinated by this OTHER encounter between hip hop and country:

I was so fascinated by "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," in fact, that it ended up being the subject of my first major scholarly publication.  In it, I talk about how country music actually IS black music, and how subtly fucked up it is when country musicians consider themselves to be making a generous gesture when they reach out to black people or black culture in any way.  And of course I try to make clear that, despite some public interpretation to the contrary, "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" isn't actually any kind of attempt to reconcile country and hip hop - it's a country parody OF hip hop.

So, compared to that?  "Accidental Racist" is a step up.  I can see why people are getting upset, but I guess I'm inclined to give Paisley the benefit of the doubt.  I have no frame of reference for what he's saying - where I live and work, wearing a Confederate flag for any reason would probably get you worked over pretty quick, so it's hard to imagine doing it just because you're a Skynrd fan, but at least it feels like he's TRYING to be honest and engaged. 

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