Pushing the envelope has certainly paid off for Jason Aldean. His My Kinda Party album was the top-selling country CD of 2011, on the strength of songs that showed a different side of the country crooner, including the pop-crossover "Don't You Wanna Stay" duet with Kelly Clarkson and the rap-infused "Dirt Road Anthem." It's the latter song that he still, 18 months after the album's release, is finding himself having to defend.

By teaming up with famed rapper Ludacris for a collaborative version of "Dirt Road Anthem," Jason gained a whole new sea of fans, not to mention a friend. But he also caught a lot of heat for bridging country and rap. The seemingly endless debate continued earlier this month when Ludacris was a surprise guest at one of Jason's concerts.

"We had played Atlanta, and Ludacris came out, a surprise appearance. So the next day, I threw out a tweet to him saying thanks for coming out," Jason recalls. "And then people started getting on Facebook bashing me, saying how I was ruining country music. That's when I got on there and [posted] to the haters, 'If you don't like what I'm doing, no one's forcing you to listen.' I was sitting on my bus reading all these comments and decided to fire back ... which I never do!"

All haters aside, the song was nominated for a Grammy, went to No. 1 on the charts and sold more than 2 million downloads. So, as genre-bending clearly works for Jason, what will he do next to continue this hot streak? That's a question that doesn't really seem to faze the Georgia native as he readies his next album.

"I've always said what got me to this point was cutting songs that I like, that I thought were cool. I didn't think about that stuff when I cut My Kinda Party, so I don't wanna think about it now either," the singer insists. "To me, cutting a record is going in and finding the best group of songs you can find and make them sound like you. It's cool if you have those songs where you can push the boundaries a little bit, and we have some of those songs on this new album. This album is not much different. It's got some songs that kinda get out there a little bit, and it's got some more straight-ahead kind of things that we've always done on every record. I try not to think we gotta have an album that does better than the last one. Each album is its own thing."

There's no word yet on when Jason's next album will be out. He has confirmed that "Fly Over States" -- another chart topper -- was the final radio single from My Kinda Party.

Watch the 'Dirt Road Anthem Video'
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