Country Star Jason Aldean Sparks Controversy for ‘Pro-Lynching’ Song

Jason Aldean Try That in a Small Town video. (Credit: YouTube)

Country music star Jason Aldean is at the center of a growing controversy over his new single, “Try That in a Small Town.”

The song, which was released in May, includes lyrics that many critics are calling pro-gun and racist. Others have called the track a “modern-day lynching song,” insisting that it alludes to the practice of sundown towns — communities where Black people often faced violence from white inhabitants if they remained in town after sunset.

At one point on the track, Aldean sings: “Cuss out a cop, spit in his face/ Stomp on the flag and light it up.” Later, he adds, “Well, try that in a small town/ See how far ya make it down the road.”

Related: Right-Wing Reporter Vents CMT Country Music Awards Are Becoming Too Black: ‘Y’all Have Hip-Hop’

Discussions about the song surged on social media after a music video for the track was released on July 14. The video shows scenes of protests and burning buildings.

Notably, the music video was filmed in front of what appears to be the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee.

CNN reports that the courthouse is associated with several incidents of racial violence — including the lynching of a Black man named Henry Choate in 1927, as well as the Columbia Race Riot in 1946.

Singer Sheryl Crow was among the song’s critics, taking to Twitter to condemn its “lame” lyrics.

“I’m from a small town. Even people in small towns are sick of violence,” she wrote, in part. “There’s nothing small-town or American about promoting violence.”

Tennessee State Rep. Justin Jones — who was temporarily expelled from the House of Representatives alongside Rep. Justin J. Pearson following their participation in a gun control protest in April — also took to Twitter to condemn Aldean’s song.

“As Tennessee lawmakers, we have an obligation to condemn Jason Aldean’s heinous song calling for racist violence,” he wrote. “What a shameful vision of gun extremism and vigilantism. We will continue to call for common sense gun laws, that protect ALL our children and communities.”

Amid growing criticism online, country music network CMT, pulled the music video from rotation.

Billboard initially broke the news, revealing that the song was removed from the network on July 17.

Aldean responded to the backlash in a statement on July 18, writing, “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 was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests.”

“These references are not only meritless, but dangerous,” he added. “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.”

The 46-year-old singer went on to address his own experiences with gun violence. In 2017, Aldean performed at the Route 91 Music Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, where a gunman began firing shots and killed 58 people. “NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart,” he said.

The country singer did not, however, address concerns over the song’s mention of gun ownership and apparent threats of violence.