Brad Paisley is speaking up about what he’s learned from “Accidental Racist,” his highly controversial collaboration with LL Cool J about modern racism in the South. The song was panned by critics, including the Chicago Sun Times’ Richard Roeper, who referred to the song as “one of the 10 worst ideas ever.” Paisley fervently defended the song when it was released, but has since realized that he may not have approached the concept in the right way.
“Here’s what I know now, though, that I didn’t know on April 8th,” Paisley tells Vulture. “You can sing to a woman and say, you know, ‘If you cheat on me, I’ll forgive you’ — and the entire male population won’t turn on you and say, ‘How dare you say that on our behalf.’ But when LL says to me in the song, you know, ‘If you don’t judge me for this, I won’t judge you for that,’ people will say: ‘How dare you say this on our behalf.’ I realize now that you can’t personalize the conversation about this subject in the way I tried to in the song. I was naïve about that.”
Despite this change in perspective, Paisley remains insistent that both he and LL Cool J had good intentions when creating the track.
“No one cared more about getting this right than LL and I. We had no interest in being flippant about this. We both worked very hard on what we wanted to say. And that’s the thing that allows us to sleep,” he says.