After taking an extended hiatus to record a follow-up to his 2013 smash The Heist, Macklemore resurfaced last night via an extensive interview with Hot 97. In it, he spoke candidly about being a successful white rapper in a historically black genre.
This, to me, is what it comes down to: You need to know your place in the culture. Are you taking or are you contributing? ... You need to listen, you need to be humble. This is a whole debate, but this is not my culture to begin with. This is not a culture that white people started. I do believe that as much as I have honed my craft and put in years of dedication into the music that I love, I need to know my place.
Why am I safe? Why can I cuss on a record, have a parental advisory sticker on the cover of my album, and yet parents are still like, 'You're the only rap album I let my kids listen to'? Why can I wear a hoodie and not be labeled a thug? Why can I sag my pants and not be labeled a gangbanger? Why am I on Ellen's couch and Good Morning America? If I was black, what would my [past] drug addiction look like? It would be twisted into something else rather than people being like, 'Get back on your feet!' To me, the privilege that exists in the music industry is the same privilege that exists in America as a whole… It's white privilege.
White, liberal people want to be nice. We don't want to be racist. We don't wanna mess up. We want to be 'Oh we're post-racial. We have a black president. We don't want to talk about white privilege and it's all good, right?' It's not the case... We have to get past that awkward stage of the race conversation. As a white person, we have to listen.