Kane Brown Is Ready to Defend ‘American Bad Dream,’ A Song About Gun Violence
Kane Brown knows the song on Experiment that wagging tongues will gravitate to is "American Bad Dream," but a potential for backlash didn't keep him from including it.
Brown — a 25-year-old unconventional country music success story now two albums and three hits deep into a fast-moving career — wants to start a conversation. Listen to the song. He's not taking sides on gun control, necessarily, and he has some family history to back up the verse about good and bad police officers.
"My nana was a detective, my nana was a great cop," he shares. "You also have bad cops that were bullied in school or whatever and think that they have power and that makes other cops look bad. I just feel like everybody should stop hiding behind the lies or just seeing everything on social media and just realize the situation."
Still, these are issues country artists have almost exclusively run from like they carry the Ebola virus. Since the massacre at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in October 2017 — Brown had just left minutes before the shooting started — pundits have been screaming for a strong country music response. It hasn't come. Instead, more intentional (if sporadic) remarks and statements have addressed the heart of the issue. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill spoke to Billboard. Carrie Underwood included a song on her Cry Pretty album called "The Bullet" that shows how the destruction goes well beyond the wounded. Brown let his voice be heard in "American Bad Dream," a song he admits he was nervous to write.
"But after we finished the song, I felt that we wrote it well enough that you could see that I wasn't trying to say anything bad ... just cause awareness," he says. "No matter what artist you are, if you mention anything of this it's assumed people are going to give you hell for it."
The song is an outlier on Experiment, an album filled with catchy, R&B and '90s country influenced love songs that he admits are all about wife Katelyn Jae. When "My Where I Come From" turns to this brooding statement, it's jarring, but he then mellows out with "Live Forever," a raw, string-backed vocal showcase that finds him singing to his wife once again. What separates Brown from the aforementioned stars is he was in school when the era of school lockdowns began.
"I know if I had kids and I was a parent, that would terrifying to have to send my kid to school and have to worry about that," he admits.
If anyone knows what Brown might have ahead of him, it's Brad Paisley. Brown's summer 2018 tour boss has tested the limits in song ("Accidental Racist," "Welcome to the Future,") during the CMA Awards ("Obamacare by Morning," "Before He Tweets") and in conversation with thoughtful points of view on a variety of social topics. His advice to Brown? Be ready.
"To maybe ignore social media in the middle of whatever it is you want to say, because I don't know that it's representative," he tells Taste of Country. "You can't use social media as a polling device for yourself."
Experiment hit stores and digital retailers on Nov. 9 and includes his hit song "Lose It." The 2018 American Music Awards winner will begin his first headlining tour in January.