How 'Accidental Racist' Is Actually Just Racist

LL Cool J Attends 55th Annual Grammy Awards (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LL Cool J Attends 55th Annual Grammy Awards (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Writing at the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates explains why the lyrics to Brad Paisley and LL Cool J's duet are laughable, and why the very selection of LL as a collaborator was problematic.

This new duet between Brad Paisley and LL Cool J, "Accidental Racist," is getting beaten up pretty badly on the intertubes. I confess to doing some of the beating, mostly because of laughable lyrics and the fact that there is actually a Rap Genius entry dedicated to the song. With that said, I think it's worth taking a second to analyze why the lyrics are in fact laughable …

In an artform distinguished by a critical mass concerned with racism, LL's work is distinguished by its lack of concern. Which is fine. "Pink Cookies" is dope. "Booming System" is dope. "I Shot Ya" is dope. I even rock that "Who Do You Love" joint. But I wouldn't call up Talib Kweli to record a song about gang violence in L.A., and I wouldn't call up KRS-ONE to drop a verse on a love ballad. The only real reason to call up LL is that he is black and thus must have something insightful to say about the Confederate Flag.

The assumption that there is no real difference among black people is exactly what racism is. Our differences, our right to our individuality, is what makes us human …

It is no different than the only black kid in class being asked to explain "race" to white people, or asking the same question of the sole black dude in your office. The entire fight is to get white people to respect the fact that Mos Def holding a microphone is not LL Cool J holding a microphone, that Trayvon Martin is not De'Marquise Elkins, that wearing a hoodie and being black does not make you the same as every other person wearing a hoodie and being black.


Read Ta-Nehisi Coates' entire piece at the Atlantic.

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