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Jason Aldean’s ‘Try That in a Small Town’ Video Removes Protest Scene

The music video for the song “Try That in a Small Town” by the country music star Jason Aldean appears to have been edited to remove violent images of Black Lives Matter protests after criticism that the song and the accompanying video were offensive.

The updated video, six seconds shorter than the original, no longer includes video clips from Fox News in Atlanta showing police violence against protesters during Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. However, the video is still set at a Tennessee courthouse that was the site of a lynching, and it includes other clips of criminal activity and clashes between protesters and the police.

Portions of the Fox News clip appeared twice in the original music video, first projected against the exterior of the courthouse as Aldean sings about actions that he claims would not be tolerated in a small town: “carjack an old lady,” “cuss out a cop,” “stomp on the flag.”

The removed clip was filmed in Atlanta during the nationwide protests that followed the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. The demonstrations grew so tense in Atlanta that the city’s mayor urged protesters to go home, and the governor of Georgia declared a state of emergency.

Country Music Television stopped airing the video last week, but did not confirm that it had done so in response to backlash against the song. The network and Mr. Aldean’s record label, BBR Music Group, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. In a statement to The Washington Post, which reported the changes to the video, BBR said that “the video footage was edited due to third-party copyright clearance issues.”

Aldean’s music video was filmed outside the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tenn., where an 18-year-old Black man, Henry Choate, was lynched by a white mob in 1927 after he was falsely accused of raping a 16-year-old white girl.

State Representative Justin Jones of Tennessee, a Democrat, condemned the song on Twitter, describing it as a “heinous song calling for racist violence” that promoted “a shameful vision of gun extremism and vigilantism.”

Aldean, 46, has been one of country’s music’s biggest hitmakers for two decades. He has denied that race played any part in the song’s lyrics, which were written by Neil Thrasher, Kurt Allison, Tully Kennedy and Kelley Lovelace. He has also denied that it is a “pro-lynching song,” saying on Twitter that “these references are not only meritless, but dangerous.”

He commented on the response to the song at a tour stop in Cincinnati on Friday.

“Cancel culture is a thing,” he told the crowd at the Riverbend Music Center, according to Rolling Stone. “It’s something where if people don’t like what you say, they try and make sure they can cancel you, which means try to ruin your life, ruin everything.”

“Try That in a Small Town” initially received little attention when it was released in May, landing at No. 35 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. But that changed when the video was released on July 14, and critics assailed it for what they said were its racist overtones.

The controversy sent the song to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, beating out hits by Olivia Rodrigo, Morgan Wallen and Aldean’s fellow country star Luke Combs.

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