After his controversial ‘Try That In A Small Town’ video was pulled from CMT, Jason Aldean took to his Instagram stories to respond to the backlash the divisive song has been receiving.
CMT removed the visuals from its rotation on Monday, following widespread criticism of both the single and the video, which many deem to have racist undertones and pro-gun messaging.
‘Try That In A Small Town’ finds Aldean listing a variety of actions he implies are associated with ‘city’ culture (“Sucker punch somebody on a sidewalk / Carjack an old lady at a red light / Pull a gun on the owner of a liquor store / Ya think it's cool, well, act a fool if ya like”).
He then goes on to explicitly outline what will happen should anyone "try that in a small town", before seemingly suggesting there will be a gun-led response (“Got a gun that my granddad gave me / They say one day they're gonna round up / Well, that shit might fly in the city, good luck”).
Critics have condemned the song as promoting gun extremism, with many also viewing the video as consolidating the racially provocative subtext underlying the ‘Try That In A Small Town’ lyrics.
The video features clips of violent scenes - many of which have been taken from BLM protests - and flag-burning, interspersed with shots of Aldean singing in front of the Maury County Courthouse.
Many are uncomfortable with the choice of setting, given the fact that the building is widely known to be the site of a 1927 mob lynching of an 18-year old Black man, Henry Choate.
Following the removal of the video from CMT, Aldean took to social media to underline that it was never his intention for ‘Try That In A Small Town’ to be interpreted as racist in any way. Aldean wrote, ‘In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous‘.
Aldean went on to stress, ‘There is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it - and there isn’t a single video clip that isn’t real news footage. While I can try and respect others to have their own interpretation of a song with music - this one goes too far’.
After referencing his presence at the 2017 Route 91 tragedy, during which 60 concert-goers were killed as a result of gun violence, Aldean underlined what ‘Try That In A Small Town’ means to him.
He explained that, for him, it ‘refers to the feeling of a community that I had growing up, where we took care of our neighbors, regardless of differences of background or belief’.
Aldean concluded, ‘My political views have never been something I've hidden from, and I know that a lot of us in this country don't agree on how we get back to a sense of normalcy where we go at least a day without a headline that keeps us up at night. But the desire for it to - that's what this song is about’.
Despite the negative media attention surrounding ‘Try That In A Small Town’, the publicity around the song and its video continues to contribute towards a surge in its popularity.
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