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Jason Aldean's "Try That In A Small Town" Controversy refers to backlash over a 2023 song by American country singer Jason Aldean that was deemed by many as a "racist dog whistle" and "pro-lynching" due to the fact that the music video that was filmed in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee where 18-year-old Henry Choate was lynched in 1927 and also where the Columbia Race Riots took place in 1946, which resulted in the attempted lynching of Thurgood Marshall. The music video also used modern protest and riot footage, as well as including the lyrics "Well, that shit might fly in the city, good luck. Try that in a small town. See how far ya make it down the road," among others. The song was dubbed anti-left and anti-Black by critics in an attempt to seemingly cancel Aldean. The music video was also removed from CMT (Country Music Television). Due to the controversy, the song trended in internet discourse between people who thought it was racist and those who didn't. Memes, discourse and content were prevalent on TikTok and Twitter in July 2023.
On May 19th, 2023, Jason Aldean's single "Try That In A Small Town" was released on streaming services like Spotify.  Leading into the song's chorus, the lyrics are, "Well, that shit might fly in the city, good luck. Try that in a small town. See how far ya make it down the road." On May 19th, the song was also published to YouTube as an "official audio," gaining roughly 817,900 views in two months.
Aldean also posted two TikTok videos with "Try That In A Small Town" on May 19th, however, the song didn't cause mass discourse until July 14th, 2023, when the song's music video was uploaded to YouTube, gaining roughly 4.7 million views in six days (shown below). The music video used footage of protests and riots, likening it to what happens in a city. The music video was also filmed in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, a notorious location known as the site where 18-year-old Henry Choate was lynched in 1927 and also where the Columbia Race Riots took place in 1946, which resulted in the attempted lynching of Thurgood Marshall.
The "Try That In A Small Town" music video also went viral when Aldean posted it to Twitter on July 14th, receiving roughly 24,100 likes in six days. Aldean's tweet is what inspired most of the initial backlash against the song and music video over the following days.
On July 14th, 2023, Aldean's song started to gain backlash on Twitter, evident in a tweet sent by Twitter user @seamus317713 on July 14th, who called it, "absolute right wing propaganda," gaining over 140 likes in six days (shown below, left). On July 17th, Twitter user @LauraAnnSTL replied to Aldean, writing, "Why did you record this dog whistle song in front of the Maury County Courthouse? The same courthouse that saw the Columbia Race Riots in 1946? Where a bunch of white men attempted the lynching of Thurgood Marshall?" The reply gained roughly 10,000 likes in three days (shown below, right).
Around the same time that the backlash was accumulating, users on TikTok started to promote the song and music video's symbolism, such as TikToker @the_brittw on July 15th, 2023, whose video in support of Aldean gained roughly 650,400 plays and 58,400 likes in five days (shown below, left). After July 17th, viral videos using the song as a TikTok sound became more commonplace.
Around the same time, some Black TikTokers from rural areas also started reacting to the song, such as TikToker @irawilkins on July 18th, whose video gained roughly 1.5 million plays and 90,700 likes in two days (shown below, right).
Viral discourse about the video ensued online and started to involve larger influencers. For instance, on July 19th, 2023, conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro posted a video to YouTube titled "Jason Aldean REFUSES To Get Canceled" in which he discussed the ongoing controversy, taking the side of Aldean. The video gained roughly 124,000 views in one day (shown below).
Viral usage of the "Try That In A Small Town" TikTok sound persisted going into late July 2023.
Removal By CMT
On July 18th, 2023, the music video was pulled from airing on Country Music Television (CMT) due to the music video's location at the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee where the 18-year-old Henry Choate was lynched in 1927 and also where the Columbia Race Riots took place in 1946 that resulted in the attempted lynching of Thurgood Marshall. The controversy was notably covered by news outlets like the Washington Post as it continued garnering viral attention.
 Washington Post – The story of the lynching site where Jason Aldean filmed a music video