By Lisa Respers France
(CNN) — Everyone seems to be buzzing about “Accidental Racist,” the new musical collaboration between country singer Brad Paisley and rapper LL Cool J — but this is not the first such tag team from those two genres.
Rap and country have intersected before, though not as controversially as the current pairing: “Accidental Racist” has touched off a firestorm for its subject matter and complaints that the song just isn’t that great.
Time’s James Poniewozik wrote “Country star and hip-hop star, trading lyrics and sharing billing for peace. Don’t pre-judge! Don’t assume the worst of people! What’s not to like?”
“Oh God, so much,” Poniewozik wrote. “The sappy ballad arrangement that sets up the confounding metaphors (‘The red flag on my chest is somehow like the elephant / In the corner of the South / And I just walked him right in the room’) and clunky lyrics (‘I wasn’t there when Sherman’s March turned the south into firewood / I want you to get paid, but be a slave I never could’).”
“The basic misrepresentations of history, such as describing Reconstruction as mainly being when ‘they … Fixed the buildings, dried some tears.’ The seriously questionable assumptions about the Starbucks employee dress code: (‘Just because my pants are saggin’ doesn’t mean I’m up to no good’ / ‘Don’t judge my do-rag’).”
A CNN commentator named Robert said of was “awful.”
“It’s not even about racism — it’s about stereotypes, based on how a person dresses. Not all white people wear cowboy hats and not all black people sag their pants. That presumption alone is racist.”
Country music star Jason Aldean dealt with charges that he was “ruining country music” when he paired up with rapper Ludacris last year for the single “Dirt Road Anthem.” At the time, a blogger from SavingCountryMusic.com discussed the tune in a piece titled “The Destruction of America’s Distinct Musical Dialects.”
“Negative connotations in media about redneck culture are making many people in rural areas flee from their native habits to adopt customs more indigenous to urban locales, giving rise to country rap with artists like Colt Ford,” the writer stated. “Jason Aldean’s country rap ‘Dirt Road Anthem’ was the best-selling song in country music last year for example. At the same time, the power of pop country is causing similar gentrification in suburban and urban zones as it encroaches into areas it is not indigenous to either.”
Aldean took to Twitter to defend his choice of musical partners after the public railed against him.
“They were bashing the fact that I had him out there and said that I was ruining country music and all this kind of stuff,” the singer told reporters at the time. “That’s when I went on (Twitter) and said, ‘You know, if you don’t like what I’m doing, nobody’s forcing you to listen.’ I just decided to fire back, which I never do.”
Tim McGraw joined forces with Nelly in 2004 for “Over and Over,” a song which cracked the Billboard Top 10. While McGraw said he enjoyed working with the St. Louis rapper, he said he didn’t consider the song part of his usual genre.
“It ain’t nothin’ country about this song,” McGraw told MTV. “But it was fun to get in there and sing with him,” he said, adding, “People are really liking the song.”
More recently, Nelly joined country duo Florida Georgia Line for a remix of their song “Cruise.”
Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson seemed like more of a natural fit — if for no other reason than their both high publicized love of a certain plant.
Nelson sings “Too many pain pills, too much pot/Tryin to be somethin that I’m not – Superman! Superman/Tryin to do more than I can, I got a little outta hand/I ain’t Superman – know what I’m talkin’ ’bout?” The rapper follows that up with a little bit of singing himself.
One of the most famous songs never released came courtesy of the queen of the crossover, pop/country star Taylor Swift. In 2009 she transformed into gold chain wearing “T-Sweezy” for a spoof duet with rapper/producer T-Pain during the Country Music Television Awards. They paired up to perform “Thug Story.”
“What, what? I knit sweaters yo!” Swift rapped.