LL Cool J Wanted to 'Shake Things Up' with 'Accidental Racist'

04/09/2013 at 04:25 PM EDT

Accidental Racist -- LL Cool J, Brad Paisley Duet Controversy; Rapper Weighs In
LL Cool J (left) and Brad Paisley
Jerod Harris/ACMA2013/Getty
LL Cool J is glad you're talking about his controversial duet, "Accidental Racist," with Brad Paisley.

That means he's doing his job.

"Music is about ... connecting different people, and building bridges and breaking the rules," the rapper tells CNN. "If it's not compelling, and it's not complex and it's not interesting, then what are we doing it for? So I think that's the right move."

"I needed to do something that was going to be interesting like that, and shake things up, and jump out of the box," he said. "I'm really proud of it, and I hope the world hears it and enjoys it."



Whether people enjoyed it or not, they certainly talked about it. The song, from Paisley's new album, Wheelhouse, caused a fire storm on social media and features the two singers having a charged debate about race.

It also includes the much-quoted line: "If you don't judge my do-rag … I won't judge your red flag/If you don't judge my gold chains … I'll forget the iron chains," sung by LL Cool J.

The direct slavery reference, the rapper says, didn't faze him.



"Brad's not afraid to express himself," LL Cool J tells Parade in a new interview. "What other country artist, or any artist right now, talks about slavery?"

As for Paisley, he tells Ellen DeGeneres of the song: "I just think art has a responsibility to lead the way. 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."

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