When Brad Paisley teamed up with LL Cool J to make a song about racism, titled, appropriately, "Accidental Racist," he knew it was going to cause a stir, but, he swears, "It's not a stunt."
"I'm doing it because it just feels more relevant than it even did a few years ago," he tells Entertainment Weekly. "It was really obvious to me that we still have issues as a nation with [race]. … And I think the younger generations are really kind of looking for ways out of this."
In the nearly six-minute song, with lyrics like "If you don't judge my do-rag … I won't judge your red flag" and "If you don't judge my gold chains … I'll forget the iron chains," the country singer, 40, and his rapper counterpart, 45, discuss race relations in America, focusing specifically on how Northerners (LL Cool J grew up in New York City) view Southerners (such as Paisley) and vice versa.
"It really came to a boil last year with 'Lincoln' and 'Django,' and there's just a lot of talk about it," says Paisley. "I just think art has a responsibility to lead the way, and I don't know the answers, but I feel like asking the question is the first step and we're asking the question in a big way."
"How do I show my Southern pride? What is offensive to you?" he continues. "And he kind of replies and his summation is really that whole 'Let bygones be bygones.'"
Still, the West Virginia native adds, he understands that the song isn't a solution, but he hopes it can contribute to one.
"This is a very sensitive subject," he says, "And we're trying to have the discussion in a way that it can help."