The rapper most frequently accused of appropriating the seminal black art form admits he feels guilty about his “white privilege.”
In Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “White Privilege II,” released Thursday night, the controversial rapper reckons with racial injustice, cultural appropriation and the Black Lives Matter movement from the eyes of a white man working in a predominantly black genre.
Macklemore opens the eight-minute track referencing the unease he felt marching in Seattle to protest the police shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
“OK, I’m saying that they’re chanting out, ‘Black lives matter,’ but I don’t say it back / Is it OK for me to say?” he raps. “I don’t know, so I watch and stand in front of a line of police that look the same as me.”
Macklemore (r.) and Ryan Lewis pose for a photo backstage at Paramount Theatre on June 18, 2014, in Seattle, Wash.
“My success is the product of the same system that let off Darren Wilson guilty,” he later adds, referring to the cop who shot Brown.
By the second verse, Macklemore — who memorably dominated the 2014 Grammys’ rap categories — slams his fellow white artists for appropriating black culture, singling out wild child Miley Cyrus, Australian rapper Iggy Azalea and the late Elvis Presley.
“You’ve exploited and stolen the music, the moment / The magic, the passion, the fashion you toyed with / The culture was never yours to make better / You’re Miley, you’re Elvis, you’re Iggy Azalea.”
He doesn’t stop there, doubling down on Azalea for her “fascist” inclusion in the genre.
“Fake and so plastic, you’ve heisted the magic / You’ve taken the drums and the accent you rapped in / You’re branded hip-hop; it’s so fascist and backwards / That Grandmaster Flash’d go slap it, you bastard / All the money that you made / All the watered-down pop bulls— version of the culture, pal.”
Macklemore name-checked Iggy Azalea (l.) and Miley Cyrus (r.) for appropriating black culture.
The 32-year-old also admits he’s been “passive” in speaking up about racial injustice.
“What if I actually read a article, actually had a dialogue / Actually looked at myself, actually got involved? / If I’m aware of my privilege and do nothing at all, I don’t know.”
The fresh track is a follow-up to Macklemore’s 2005 “White Privilege,” in which he explored similar themes and called himself “just another white boy who has caught on to the trend.”
“White Privilege II” will appear on the upcoming album “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made.”
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