The country singer faced backlash over the lyrics to his May 2023 song "Try That In A Small Town," which threatens violence against perceived criminals, as the lyrics call out people who carjack, assault strangers and rob liquor stores.
"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," Aldean sings. "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."
Aldean—who also describes the small town as "full of good ol' boys, raised up right"—released an accompanying music video July 14, which was reportedly filmed at a courthouse in Colombia, Tenn. where a Black man named Henry Choate was lynched in the 1920s, per Billboard.
"Are we gonna talk about the racist dog whistles in Jason Aldean's new song or no? Because this s--t's got me fired up," said one TikToker while sharing their "visceral response" to the lyrics. "The references I heard were nods to sundown towns and lynch mobs."
Another critic wrote, "Jason Aldean is racist AF with his new song."
On July 18, Aldean responded to the accusations in a lengthy message on social media.
"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 46-year-old wrote on Twitter. "These references are not only meritless, but dangerous."
He continued, "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."
Seemingly addressing claims that he's promoting gun violence, Aldean went on to recall his experience at the Route 91 Harvest music festival, where a gunman killed 60 people during a mass shooting in 2017.
"I was present at Route 91—where so many lost their lives- and our community recently suffered another heartbreaking tragedy," Aldean said. "NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart."
He then explained what "Try That In A Small Town" was intended to be about.
"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," he said. "Because they were our neighbors, and that was above any differences."
Aldean added, "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."
E! News has reached out to his rep but hasn't received a comment.