The interview is mostly about the hoopla surrounding his song “Accidental Racist.” But what I loved about the story is how Paisley describes his new friendship with the rapper after working together on the duet.
“Look, no one dislikes LL Cool J,” Paisley said. “If you meet LL Cool J, you fall in love with LL Cool J. LL and I had mutual friends, and he and I had always talked about doing something. My fans know LL’s music. And I love him. We’re blood brothers at this point.”
I’ve never met LL Cool J, but I have known Paisley for a few years and trust his judgment.
As for the actual song, Paisley talks openly about why he chose LL Cool J and not another rapper who might’ve actually stirred up even more trouble.
“I wanted to do this with LL because I love his music and because he’s a legend in his format,” he said. “And I didn’t want to do this with someone controversial. You have to remember my thought process.
“I was thinking about the reception from my audience. My fear was, I didn’t want my fans to just write it off. I didn’t want them to dismiss the song and its message. I thought about approaching Kanye [West]. But it would have instantly been polarizing if I’d gotten Kanye. Half of my fans are still mad at him for taking Taylor Swift’s mic!”
Then Paisley tells the story about him and LL getting a tour of the Ryman Auditorium and its early history, including the addition of the balcony.
“They were bringing the soldiers [who served in the Civil War] home and they needed more seating,” he said. “So they built the balcony and they named it the Confederate Gallery. It’s there in big gold letters.
“And LL looks at me and he said, ‘What a country we live in, that you and I can stand here together after all that.’ He had no idea what kind of song I’d written. So I said, ‘Come out to the car. I want to play this for you.’ And he heard it and went, ‘This is important. I’m in.’ He wrote his verse in the studio.”