NPR’s New Cultural Idiocy: ‘How Racism Became a Marketing Tool For Country Music’

August 12th, 2023 9:37 AM

National Public Radio’s pop-culture show “It’s Been a Minute” bravely tackled the made-up problem of racist country music, in the wake of the failed censorship of singer Jason Aldrean’s hit Try That in a Small Town. Tax-funded NPR blurbed the August 1 radio segment under this heading: “How racism became a marketing tool for country music.”

After establishing her bona fides as a country music lover, Luse pondered the fact of three country songs at the top of the Billboard Hot 100: “But then you press play.”

Singer Jason Aldean: (Singing) Cuss out a cop, spit in his face, stomp on the flag and light it up. Yeah, you think you're tough?

Luse: ….Now, I don't know about you, but, for me, when I heard those lyrics for the first time, I had a feeling Aldean was referring to the 2020 Black Lives Matter uprisings. Turns out I wasn't just imagining it.

Now why would Luse, who is black, automatically think of BLM upon hearing Aldean's lyrics about violent acts, disrespecting cops, and burning flags? Isn’t that a bit “racist” in itself?

She also conveniently left out the preceding lyrics "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." Definitely not the most political of messages.

More wholly fantastical accusations of racism emanated from Luse:

Luse: It's now the No. 1 song in the U.S. Is that what it takes to be a successful country artist today - racism? I ask because Jason Aldean isn't the only artist using anti-black rhetoric. Morgan Wallen's song "Last Night" currently sits at No. 2 and has been No. 1 for 14 weeks, and he, too, gained notoriety for being racist. A couple of years ago, he was caught on tape using the N-word. Just like Aldean, he was pulled from CMT, and, also like Aldean, that only made him more popular. The last time a country song by a solo male artist reached No. 1 was 42 years ago. Again, I have to ask, is racism what it takes for country music to go No. 1 - country music, which comes from black music?

It's a good thing no rap songs have racial slurs or misogynistic content, right? But NPR doesn’t run aggrieved stories about those offensive lyrics. Only things that anger the left were newsworthy.

Luse: I wanted to know how country music became this symbol of racism and why country music fans are flocking to stars like Aldean and Wallen, who are peddling racist rhetoric today.

Luse talked to country music historian Amanda Martinez, who delivered a potted history of country music before the conversation shifted to current events.

Luse: You know, when you talk about, like, you know, conservative audience, I mean, Jason Aldean's song seems to espouse some of the same values that many people are getting from right-wing American politics….

Luse did note “artists with left-leaning political views” also put politics into their music, like Beyonce, only to set up Martinez to disingenuously knock the comparison down:

Luse: Beyond the very clear difference in political views, what are the other differences between what Aldean is doing with his messaging and what Beyonce was doing with her messaging?

Martinez: Yeah. I mean, I think, on the surface, with Beyonce's politics and political messaging, it's calling for greater liberation of more people, whereas Aldean is calling for the opposite -- right? -- where he's calling for a suppression of those calls for greater freedoms….

Martinez's disdain for law and order would certainly strengthen the "freedom" to be assaulted or carjacked.

Even a country cover of "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman (which Chapman was earning royalties on) was seen as part of the racism problem by Luse:

….Luke Combs' "Fast Car," which is a shockingly derivative cover of Tracy Chapman's original. Tracy Chapman, of course, is a black woman.

Her outrage there came despite the fact Chapman gave Combs permission to cover her song.

This episode was sponsored by Organic Valley.