I have to admit, I like Macklemore’s music. Popping tags in a thrift shop? Been there done that. Actually every Sunday and Monday when my local thrift shop has their 50% off days. A lot of critics have referred to Macklemore as a “bubble gum rapper” without any “street cred”. But who really needs street cred when you’ve had back-to-back No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100 (“Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us“), and a Top 20 track (“Same Love”).
What Macklemore lacks in street cred, he makes up for it in “White Privilege” cred. And he’s owning up to it.
Rolling Stone recently did a cover story on the West Coast rapper (hey, Seattle is still the West Coast) where he discussed his version of white privilege:
“If you’re going to be a white dude and do this shit, I think you have to take some level of accountability,” Macklemore says. “You have to acknowledge where the art came from, where it is today, how you’re benefiting from it. At the very least, just bringing up those points and acknowledging that, yes, I understand my privilege, I understand how it works for me in society, and how it works for me in 2013 with the success that The Heist has had.”
“We made a great album,” he continues, “but I do think we have benefited from being white and the media grabbing on to something. A song like ‘Thrift Shop’ was safe enough for the kids. It was like, ‘This is music that my mom likes and that I can like as a teenager,’ and even though I’m cussing my ass off in the song, the fact that I’m a white guy, parents feel safe. They let their six-year-olds listen to it. I mean it’s just…it’s different. And would that success have been the same if I would have been a black dude? I think the answer is no.”
So on one hand, he understands if he was a random black guy talking about popping tags at a thrift store, that he might not be where he is today.
But who’s fault is it?
Do we blame the music executives who probably want to push the envelope when it comes to black rappers? Macklemore has never been signed to a major label, he’s been releasing music independently since 2000. But it seems when it comes to music executives marketing black rappers, the more bitches and hos and gunshots the better right? Have you heard of Chief Keef? No? Then consider yourself lucky.
Maybe one day a record executive will come across a happy black rapper who doesn’t mind rapping about popping tags, his mental health or gay rights. Until then, I guess Macklemore is correct about his version of white privilege. I mean, what’s the point in having white privilege if you’re not willing to own up to it, right?