After suffering a heat-related medical incident during a concert over the weekend, country superstar Jason Aldean is taking on more heat (albeit on the internet) for a song that seemingly takes aim at Black Lives Matter protesters—if not the entire urban population.
Last Friday, the Grammy-nominated singer released the music video for his recent single “Try That in a Small Town.” As the title suggests, the three-minute ballad is an explicit warning to demonstrators not to attempt their social justice shenanigans in the rural South.
Apparently, Aldean was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests for the police-involved murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020, as evidenced by the inflammatory new song. The track is not just a statement of Aldean’s personal politics, but a disturbing call to arms, making Toby Keith’s infamous post-9/11 anthem look rather quaint by comparison.
“Cuss out a cop,” Aldean sings in the first verse. “Spit in his face / Stomp on the flag and light it up / Yeah, ya think you’re tough / Try that in a small town.”
The chorus continues, “See how far ya make it down the road / Around here, we take care of our own / You cross that line / it won’t take long / For you to find out, I recommend you don’t / Try that in a small town.”
Elsewhere, Aldean praises the South’s “good ol’ boys” who were “raised up right.” In maybe the song’s darkest lyrics, he suggests he’s been gearing up for some sort of race war: “Got a gun that my grandad gave me / They say one day they’re going to round up.”
If the lyrics weren’t direct enough, the new music video for “Try That in a Small Town” shows Aldean and his band performing in front of a white municipal building with an American flag hanging from it. The rest of the video features footage of looters and rioters, including a Fox News broadcast during the 2020 riots that took place in Aldean’s native Georgia.
Around the same time Aldean was making headlines for his near-collapse on stage over the weekend, Twitter and TikTok users began criticizing his latest track for its racist dog whistles and promoting vigilante violence. Many have interpreted the song as pro-lynching.
Others—like Shannon Watts, founder of the public safety advocacy group Moms Demands—called out Aldean for encouraging gun violence despite his proximity to the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, which happened while he was performing at a Las Vegas music festival in 2017.
The last time Aldean was in hot water on social media for his conservative politics, it was during a feud involving fellow country singer Maren Morris. The pop-country star famously referred to his wife, Brittany Aldean, as an “insurrectionist Barbie” after she made transphobic remarks on Instagram. During a Nashville concert last October, Aldean name-dropped Morris during an improvised bit, to which the crowd audibly jeered.
Morris has consistently been outspoken about racism and queerphobia within the country music community, so we can only hope she has some fiery words lined up for Aldean’s garbage new song.