Cincinnati, OH – Country music star Jason Aldean addressed the recent controversy surrounding his new chart-topper, “Try That in a Small Town,” while onstage in Cincinnati on Friday night (video below).
Critics have accused Aldean, 46, of using the song to promote violence and threaten people who hold anti-American and anti-law enforcement beliefs.
Country Music Television (CMT) took the music video out of rotation last week amid allegations the song was racist and advocated gun violence and vigilantism.
Aldean previously said the song is about neighbors standing up for neighbors, especially when someone tries to victimize them or their communities.
It also put criminals on notice that their behavior won’t be tolerated in small-town America.
“I gotta tell you guys, man, it’s been a long -ss week,” Aldean told the screaming crowd gathered for his Highway Desperado Tour stop at the city’s Riverbend Music Center on July 21, Billboard reported. “I’ve seen a lot of stuff suggesting I’m this, suggesting I’m that. Hey, there’s the thing… I feel like everybody is entitled to their opinion. You can think something all you want to – it doesn’t mean it’s true.”
Aldean then told the crowd exactly what he believes.
“What I am is a proud American,” he calmly declared. “I love our country. I want to see it restored to what it once was before all this bulls—t started happening to us.”
“I love my country, I love my family, and I will do anything to protect that,” Aldean added. “I can tell you that right now.”
The crowd responded with enthusiastic chants of, “USA! USA!”
Aldean said he knows firsthand that “cancel culture… is a thing.”
“If people don’t like what you say, they try and make sure that they can cancel you, which means try to ruin your life, ruin everything,” he continued. “One thing I saw this week was a bunch of country music fans that can see through a lot of the bulls—t, alright? I saw country music fans rally like I’ve never seen before, and it was pretty bas-ss to watch, I gotta say. Thank you guys so much.”
Aldean said he’s never shied away from what he believes in or what he stands for.
“The people have spoken, and you guys spoke very, very loudly this week,” he said, just before he and the band broke into “Try That in a Small Town.”
“When u grow up in a small town, it’s that unspoken rule of ‘we all have each other’s backs and we look out for each other,’” Aldean tweeted when the video was released on July 14. “It feels like somewhere along the way, that sense of community and respect has gotten lost. Deep down we are all ready to get back to that. I hope my new music video helps y’all know that u are not alone in feeling that way.”
The song also warned criminals that citizens in small-town America won’t put up with their violent antics.
“Sucker punch somebody on a sidewalk, carjack an old lady at a red light, pull a gun on the owner of a liquor store… Cuss out a cop, spit in his face, stomp on the flag and light it up,” the lyrics read. “Well, try that in a small town. 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.”
The song was first released in May, but outrage erupted after the recent release of the corresponding music video, TMZ reported.
Portions of the video were shot at a courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, where an 18-year-old black man, Henry Choate, was lynched by a mob in 1927, USA Today reported.
The same courthouse has been used as a backdrop in countless movies, television shows, and other music videos.
Choate had been accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old white girl and was hanged from the second story of the courthouse, according to Newsweek.
The video also showed footage of anti-police riots, looting, and burning buildings, all of which critics said alluded to the Black Lives Matter movement, TODAY reported.
The music video rocketed to the top of multiple charts and platforms even after CMT dropped it from rotation on July 17.
Aldean, who was performing during the Route 91 Harvest Festival near the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, when a gunman murdered 60 people and wounded 800 more, has also been accused of promoting gun violence in the new hit song.
“Got a gun that my granddad gave me. They say one day they’re gonna round up. Well, that s–t might fly in the city, good luck… Try that in a small town…” the lyrics read.
Aldean previously defended himself in a statement on July 18.
“In the past 24 hours 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 (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests,” the singer wrote. “These references are not only meritless, but dangerous. 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 -and while I can try and respect others to have their own interpretation of a song with music- this one goes too far.”
Aldean said he has never advocated for gun violence.
“As so many pointed out, I was present at Route 91-where so many lost their lives- and our community recently suffered another heartbreaking tragedy,” he wrote. “NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart.”
Aldean said the song is about taking care of one another.
“Try That In A Small Town, for me, refers to the feeling of a community that I had growing up, where we took care of our neighbors, regardless of differences of background or belief. Because they were our neighbors, and that was above any differences,” he said. “My political views have never been something I’ve hidden from, and I know that a lot of us in this Country don’t agree on how we get back to a sense of normalcy where we go at least a day without a headline that keeps us up at night. But the desire for it to- that’s what this song is about.”
Watch Aldean’s speech to the Cincinnati crowd in the video below:
NEW: Jason Aldean refuses to back down during his Cincinnati concert last night in response to backlash from his new music video, ‘Try That in a Small Town’ where Aldean condemns far-left riots.
“What I am is a proud American.”
“I love our country. I want to see it restored to… pic.twitter.com/B3aDC2UhGe
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) July 22, 2023