White rappers have long stood out in the realm of black music and oftentimes becoming more successful than the black artists in the genre who deserve more recognition. Macklemore, a highly successful white rapper, released a new song where he blatantly expresses white guilt and spreads the word of cultural appropriation.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis recently released a new song titled “White Privilege II.” The nearly nine minute long song is a follow up to the rapper’s earlier record by the same name that was released back in 2009.
In the song, Macklemore calls out many instances of white people essentially appropriating and stealing Black culture without acknowledging the Black people who made these things popular. He calls out Elvis, Miley, and Iggy Azalea, all great examples of people who have used Black culture to appeal to a larger audience. Iggy is a big booty Australian woman that [tries] to rap like she is smooth out of Atlanta. Elvis Presley stole MANY of his hits from African-American Rock & Roll and Blues artists who never received their due honors. And Miley thinks she started the twerk movement, and for that we have several seats awaiting her. None of the aforementioned have done anything to help progress the systematic liberation of the group of whom inspired their success, and they have all reaped the benefits of the culture without experiencing the life struggles that the culture is birthed out of.
Anyone who knows me know that I am not the one to be a fan of Macklemore although I will Harlem Shake and heel-toe to “Thrift Shop” in a hot second. I also attended one of his concerts and had the time of my life because Macklemore gives one heck of a show (I was there because Big KRIT opened), but I digress. Anywho, I really admire this song and give props to Macklemore for this record by all means.
He’s acknowledged his white privilege and throughout the song he questions himself on how to use this privilege to help the cause of Black Lives Matter, cultural appropriation, and the unspoken white supremacy that is evident across America. He puts into perspective the race relations and race conversations that many of us face each and every day. Macklemore is making an effort to walk with the people that has so often been overlooked and disrespected. He even says,”My success is the product of the same system,” when speaking on white supremacy being what is holding back minorities in so many areas.
“We take all we want from Black culture, but will we stand up for Black lives?” Think about it!
He gets it! I believe Macklemore truly understands that Black voices are unheard, yet heard enough to strip us of the only thing that makes us feel free…our culture. Let us not forget the text message Macklemore sent to Kendrick Lamar after taking home a few Grammy’s Kendrick were so very deserving of. It was sincere and he knows Kendrick rightfully deserved each accolade that he received that night. He is full blown woke to the system, fully acknowledges it and does his best to spread his knowledge to his audience. BUT after all has been said and done, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis will continue to reap the benefits of white privilege. He’s still going to rap, appeal to a large white audience, and win awards based on his success using a culture that he will never ever understand firsthand. So the cycle continues? I would hope not, but lets be real here.
The song is a great think piece. This is just what “White America that appropriates hip-hop and black culture” needs. This is just what African-Americans need to help us understand that we do have allies and are not standing alone in our fight for equality, justice and respect. The song is indeed powerful, honest, full of emotion as most of the duo’s songs are.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed the song on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night. Check out the song below! Let me know what you think.