Pro-gun lyrics are apparently no longer permissible in American popular music. That, at least, is the implication behind the attempt to cancel Jason Aldean, the country music star, for his new music video: “Try That in a Small Town.”
Aldean’s video features news footage of looters and rioters, which looks similar to the violent scenes that erupted during the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, though it is not explicit. Later, images appear idealizing life in small, conservative towns: family, community, gun ownership. After critics accused the video of being “pro-gun violence” and “pro-lynching”—including fellow country star Sheryl Crow, who accused Aldean of “promoting violence”—the Country Music Television channel pulled the video last week after just days of airtime.
As a fan of rap music and a rapper myself, I can’t help but notice the hypocrisy behind this outrage. While it is true that Aldean’s lyrics are pro-gun and contain a brand of machismo that might be off-putting to some, they are mild compared to the lyrics routinely heard in mainstream rap songs.