* (out of 4)

Earlier today, country artist Brad Paisley released his new single. It features rap legend and asymmetrical-pant-leg trailblazer LL Cool J. The song is the worst country/rap hybrid that has ever been created, and that includes that “CMT vs. BET” theme party I attended in college.
 
The tune is an attempt to understand opposing cultures, with Paisley crooning flaccid lines like “I’m just a whiiiiite man, comin’ to ya from the Southlannnd” and “I’m proud of where I’m from, but not everything we’ve done.” It’s like the sappiest mea culpa you’ll ever hear. Like, imagining Ruben Studdard’s “Sorry 2004”… but you know, it’s about slavery.  LL comes in with some bargain-basement raps about “avoiding invisible white hoods” and “feeling like a new-fangled Django.” It’s all very depressing.
 
So with such good intents, what’s the issue with this song? Other than it being the corniest thing ever created (dethroning this) and sounding like the lyrics were written as a 7th-grade U.S. history class group project (that only one kid is actually doing the work on,) the problem is that it beats stereotypes on both sides absolutely to death. The swaggering Negro, with his baggy jeans and do-rag (speaking of, have we learned to spell that yet? Du? Do? Can I just cop out and call it a wave cap?) and the country-strong white guy, who wears a cowboy hat even though he lives in a condo on the 34th floor and drives a pickup even though he wouldn’t know what to do with a backhoe if you paid him. The main intent of the song and what it was trying to accomplish is appreciated though. America is absolutely horrible at discussing race-related issues, and I applaud Paisley and whomever convinced LL that this was a good career move for the attempt. We do need to have a frank conversation about race in America, but trying to condense 394 years of frustration, anger and hate into a five-minute pop-country tune isn’t the best way to go about doing it.
 
It’s easy to throw stones from our laptops though, so here are a couple of music-related moves that could help race relations better than “Accidental Racist.”
 

  • Enact a racial draft like on “Chappelle’s Show.” Speaking for my black brethren, we’d like to offer up Ray J, Keyshia Cole and Machine Gun Kelly’s expiring deal for Jessie Ware, Kid Rock and the rights to the other half of Drake.

 

  • Establish a record-label “Wife Swap” situation where country music singers and songwriters actually go hang out with actual black people for a week or two. Look at that: No more “Honky Tonk Badonk-adonk” #NeverForget

I’m not really sure what else to offer, but I do think that this kind of start isn’t helping anyone. My best friend is white, and he and I haven’t spoken since this song came out. I haven’t made eye contact with my co-workers today. I’ve been listening to the dead prez album on loop, it’s getting pretty intense.

 

Ernest Wilkins is Chicago's wingman. erwilkins@tribune.com

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