LL Cool J was dragged over the coals in 2013 when he collaborated with country star Brad Paisley for “Accidental Racist.” In the song, he compared du-rags to the Confederate flag and said “R.I.P. Robert E. Lee,” the Confederate commander whose statue was the subject of this year’s neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville that ended up with a protestor dead. But years later, he told the Drink Champs crew that the record was ahead of its time.
“Everybody was mad at me and I understand their point of view but…fast forward and look at the shape the country is in and you think about what me and him was attempting to do,” LL insisted to N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN. “It was ideological but look at the shape the country is in now.”
“Drink Champs” | LL Cool J (Full Episode)
He and Paisley said back then that the song was an attempt to find common ground and promote racial unity. But critics said that the song was perpetuating racism instead of fighting it. “If you don’t judge my du-rag, I won’t judge your red (Confederate) flag,” he infamously said toward the end of the songs. “If you don’t judge my gold chains, I’ll forget the iron chains.” But LL said there’s a message in the song – one he believes is made clearer in the era Black Lives Matter and President Donald Trump.
“People at that point thought that I was out of my mind for comparing a du-rag to a confederate flag, but now you seeing little brothers get shot down every day because of their outfits,” LL said. “Whether it’s a hoodie, it may not be a du-rag, but maybe it’s a hoodie, with Trayvon, maybe it’s some sagging jeans, maybe it’s a brother outside of an SVU getting shot down. That’s the thing I was talking about. I was trying to humanize us. I would never suggest that we forget our history. That’s absurd.”
When it comes to the “R.I.P. Robert E. Lee” bit, LL Cool J referenced the racist shooting at a black church in South Carolina. He compared the churchgoers’ forgiveness of Dylann Roof to his own forgiveness of Robert E. Lee.
“When that racist dude ran up in that church and he shot up all of those people, in that black church down south, and then those black people got together and said, you know what. We are praying for him and we forgive him, and we want to send love to him, the country held them in high esteem,” LL said. “Because they were able to get beyond their emotions and see the bigger picture and that’s what I was trying to show people. But it took four years and all of these people dying by the hands of corrupt police for [people to see] what I was saying and what me and Brad were attempting to do was very real.”
LL concluded the segment by saying that the song did exactly what music is supposed to do: cause a reaction.
“They laughed at us then, you know. SNL, everybody was laughing at us. Then they ignored us,” LL said. “But now, look at what’s going on. They tryna fight that same, they are trying to promote those same vibes, those same values that we talked about.”
Watch the entire LL Cool J episode of Drink Champs above.