Jason Aldean
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Jason Aldean will be returning for the 2024 CMT Music Awards one year after his “Try That in a Small Town” music video was pulled from CMT’s rotation.

Aldean, 47, is set to perform “Let Your Boys Be Country” during the awards show on Sunday, April 7. One year prior, he faced allegations of racism for the lyrics in his “Try That in a Small Town.”

“Cuss out a cop, spit in his face / Stomp on the flag and light it up / Yeah, ya think you’re tough,” Aldean sang. “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.”

He continued, “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.”

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Aldean subsequently defended the song in a social media post. “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. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous,” he wrote via X in July 2023. “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.”

Social media users also called out Aldean’s pro-gun lyrics, especially after a gunman opened fire at his 2017 Las Vegas concert leaving 58 people dead and 546 injured. Aldean, for his part, slammed the critics.

“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. NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart,” he continued. “‘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. 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.”

In June 2023, Aldean dropped the “Try That in a Small Town” music video, which further escalated the controversy. It was filmed in front of Columbia, Tennessee’s Maury County Courthouse, which had been the location of a Black teen’s lynching in 1927. (Aldean later claimed he didn’t know about the location’s history.)

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Despite the backlash surrounding the song and the music video, Aldean said he didn’t regret releasing it.

“I don’t feel bad about [it] because I know my intentions behind, you know, shooting the video there and recording the song and everything,” Aldean told CBS News in November 2023. “I would do it over again, every time … minus the setting, knowing what I know now, obviously, you know, knowing that that was gonna be a thing, you know, maybe you look at doing it somewhere else.”

He continued: “I know what the intentions were behind the location, the video, the song, all of it. And, you know, and I stand by all that.”

The 2024 CMT Music Awards air on CBS Sunday, April 7, at 8 p.m. ET. It will also be available to stream live and on-demand via Paramount+.

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