The song released today, “White Privilege II,” is a sequel of sorts. In 2005, the Grammy-winning musician released a song with recording partner Ryan Lewis entitled, natch, “White Privilege,” in which the white Seattle-based rapper acknowledged his own role as a gentrifier of hip-hop.
Where’s my place in a music that’s been taken by my race
Culturally appropriated by the white face
And we don’t want to admit that this is existing
So scared to acknowledge the benefits of our white privilege
Macklemore has now expanded the frame of his white-privilege critique from hip-hop to America at large. While he adds in a searing verse blasting his fellow white artists, he focuses mainly on his insecurity at a racial justice protest and, later, evokes the Walter Scott shooting in an interaction with a white mom who opines that “if a cop pulls you over, it’s your fault if you run.” Vocalist Jamila Woods closes out the nearly nine-minute missive against unearned advantage and co-opting blackness.
As often is the case with Macklemore’s music, the biggest problem here is his mediocre talent. But you should listen to it. As he says in the song, America feels safe with his music in its speakers. If white people don’t want to hear black people confront them about their privilege, perhaps they won’t mind when Macklemore does it. All shade aside, that’s a good thing.