Country music star Jason Aldean defended himself and his song “Try That in a Small Town” during a Friday concert in Cincinnati, Ohio, amid heavy criticism over the track.
The song was released in mid-May, but itafter a music video started to make its rounds on CMT, which is owned and operated by MTV Networks, a subsidiary of CBS News’ parent company Paramount. Critics have described the song as pro-guns and pro-violence, with one person describing it as a “modern lynching song.”
“I’ve seen a lot of stuff suggesting I’m this, suggesting I’m that,” Aldean said to the crowd on Friday. “Hey, here’s the thing, here’s the thing: here’s one thing I feel. I feel like everybody’s entitled to their opinion. You can think, you can think something all you want to, it doesn’t mean it’s true, right? So what I am is a proud American, proud to be from here.”
Videos posted on social media show the crowd breaking out into chants of “USA” after Aldean said he loved America and his family and would do anything to protect them. He said he wants the country “restored to what it once was before all this bulls**t started happening to us.”
Aldean also blasted “cancel culture” and it was clear a “bunch of country music fans” could see through what was happening.
The singer said that in the lead-up to the concert, many people asked him if he was going to play “Try That in a Small Town.”
“I know a lot of you guys grew up like I did,” Aldean told the crowd. “You kind of have the same values, the same principles that I have, which is we want to take our kids to a movie and not worry about some a**hole coming in there shooting up the theater. So somebody asked me, ‘Hey man, you think you’re going to play this song tonight?’ The answer was simple. The people have spoken and you guys spoke very, very loudly this week.”
Aldean previously defended the song in a Tuesday tweet.
“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,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “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.”
He also reminded people that he was present during a mass shooting at thein 2017. Aldean said that nobody, including him, “wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart.”
He said that the song is about “the feeling of a community that I had growing up, where we took care of our neighbors, regardless of differences of background or belief.”
The controversy around “Try That in a Small Town” is not the first Aldean has dealt with during his career. In 2015, he made headlines formakeup and dressing as rapper Lil Wayne for a Halloween costume.