Macklemore has been the butt of many jokes, known as a rapper whose music is defined, by much of the public, as cultural appropriation. Regardless of these feelings and Twitter memes for all to enjoy, Macklemore and his musical partner, Ryan Lewis have experienced nothing but success. Since the release of their commercially successful project The Heist in 2012 and “Thrift Shop”, the first single that put them on the mainstream radio map, they’ve collectively racked up a total of four Grammys.
The group is back with a new single, “White Privilege II”. It’s possible that they’re just getting their piece in right before Black History Month begins, or maybe there was a conference call and this was an agreed topic on the agenda. This seems to have been the week for white people to address this issue. Deray and Stephen Colbert had a talk, Sam Smith spoke out, and a school in Portland is launching a project to find solutions to the affect of whiteness in America. These are all real things that happened.
“White Privilege II” is an 8 minute and 42 second personal telling of Macklemore’s relationship, as he sees it, with the fight against racism, the Black Lives Matter movement, and people on both sides of the fence on the issues of racial inequality and systematic oppression in the land of the free. It also features vocals from newcomer Jamila Woods. With the release of the record, both members of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have also given the public some information about the action they are taking in conjunction with the music.
The original “White Privilege” was released on Macklemore’s 2005 solo album, The Language of My World.
The reviews are mixed.
Macklemore literally got behind a mic to spend 4 minutes explaining that hip hop is being co-opted, he's part of the problem & he won't stop
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) January 22, 2016
I haven't heard the Macklemore song and I don't plan to listen because Macklemore. So I have no opinion.
— Vann R. Newkirk II (@fivefifths) January 22, 2016
No matter how careful Macklemore is in approach, he will take up space in any convo, by default, because he's a white man.
— Terrell J. Starr (@Russian_Starr) January 22, 2016
I think that Macklemore's latest song, White Privilege II, is powerful, important, & necessary. It, like all art, is also open to critique.
— deray mckesson (@deray) January 22, 2016
I listened to Macklemore "white privilege 1" & "white privilege 2"…I'm not mad cause I know I'm not the target audience for this message.
— No Relation (@TheCosby) January 22, 2016
Macklemore is recognizing and speaking out against white privilege as a white artist and y'all have a problem with it. I don't get it lol
— J (@Youngg_White) January 22, 2016
This song is worth a listen. One that doesn’t come with a serving of side eye. Ryan Lewis did his thing on the production. And it’s possible that Macklemore did his homework on this one, too.