Grammy thief and alleged rapper Macklemore’s “White Privilege II” released today is perhaps the most Macklemore thing since, well, the last thing he did that made me roll my eyes. Once upon a time, when I lived in Portland and before the Heist became the de rigeur hip-hop album for people who don’t like the genre – I used to like him. I know, I should be forced to tell everyone I meet this – like some kind of good taste offender.
Here are four thoughts on “White Privilege II.”
1. Hip-hop fans, music fans, humans already have To Pimp a Butterfly. White people in 2016 looking to understand Black Lives Matter or the reality of prejudice, discrimination, and white privilege in our society need not listen to Macklemore – even if his heart might be in the right place (emphasis on might). I would also highly recommend Vince Staples’ “Lift Me Up” as another example of eye-opening art on race from 2015. Staples’ introductory lines – “I’m just a nigga / until I fill my pockets / then I’m Mr. Nigga … ” – articulate how prevalent race and racism are in our culture, even for those who “escape” the projects, trading poverty for fame and a taste of fortune.
2. Ben Haggerty aka Macklemore called this shit “White Privilege II.” As someone who dabbles in words, that pisses me off almost as much as the sermonizing manner he approaches this topic and everything else. You didn’t trust your audience enough to get that you were rapping about White Privilege? I probably shouldn’t be surprised. He called his marriage equality song “Same Love” – ya know, marriage between people of the same gender is the same love as hetero people. (A more cynical approach about “White Privilege II” could be that he titled it as such because it would spark more streams/media attention.)
3. Uh, did I mention this is nine minutes long?!
4. At day’s end, the focus needs to be on the Black Lives Matter movement – and inequality in our divided nation – rather than Macklemore’s “White Privilege II” and its value – or lack thereof – to the discussion of racial inequality in America.