Jason Aldean is still standing next to his controversial new song, Try that in a small town.
While onstage at the Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Friday, Aldean’s audience listened intently as the country singer discussed the reaction to his new single. The song and its music video have been accused of encouraging vigilantism and racial violence.
Aldean, 46, accused “cancel culture” of coming for him and his song.
“I have to tell you, man, it’s been a long week. It’s been a long week and I’ve seen a lot of things,” Aldean said, referring to the strong opposition to his song.
“I have seen many things that suggest that I am this, that suggest that I am that. Here’s the thing, here’s one thing I feel: I feel like everyone is entitled to have their opinion,” he said. “You can think something all you want, it doesn’t mean it’s true, right?”
“What I am is a proud American. I’m proud to be from here.”
The crowd erupted in raucous applause.
“I love our country. I want to see it restored to what it was before all these bulls started passing us by,” he concluded. “I love our country, I love my family and I will do anything to protect that. I’ll tell you right now.”
The crowd then chanted “USA.”
Aldean went on to talk about “cancel culture” and said that people are hungry to “ruin your life, ruin everything” if they don’t agree with what you say in public. He said country music fans have the ability to see through “a lot of the bulls.”—.”
After his speech, Aldean performed Try that in a small town for the crowd
Many critics have referred Try that in a small town as a “pro-lynching” song.
The song was released in May, though the controversy reignited when the country artist released its accompanying music video this month.
Aldean recorded the music video for the song in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, the site where a black man named Henry Chaote was dragged behind a car by a white mob before being lynched in 1927. The courthouse also served as the backdrop for the 1946 Columbia race riots, when Tennessee Highway Patrol officers stormed a black neighborhood in the wake of a controversial court case.
The music video includes footage from the Black Lives Matter protests, cut out along with footage of Aldean singing in front of the courthouse. The video also included clips of violent muggings, leading some critics to argue that Aldean was mixing protests against police brutality with violent crime.
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Country Music Television (CMT) pulled the music video from the air amid the uproar. The video had been playing in the station’s rotation over the weekend before it was removed on Monday, according to Billboard.
Aldean previously defended his song in a lengthy statement posted to Twitter (which is currently being renamed “X”). She wrote that “there is not a single lyric in the song that references or points to race.”
“I can try to respect others to have their own interpretation of a song set to music; this one goes too far,” he continued.
“Try That In A Small Town, to me, refers to the feeling of community I had growing up, where we took care of our neighbors, regardless of differences of origin or beliefs.”
Confusion surrounding Aldean’s latest song, which many say glorifies gun violence, has been intensified by headlines that a mass shooting at an Aldean concert in Las Vegas in 2017 left 58 dead and hundreds wounded in the crowd.
— With files from Kathryn Mannie of Global News
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