Macklemore talks about why he was inspired to write “White Privilege” and discusses his feelings regarding the Trayvon Martin murder and George Zimmerman trial.
Macklemore recently spoke about Eminem’s influence on Hip Hop, his feelings regarding the Trayvon Martin murder and White privilege.
“White privilege is a fascinating topic and it is one that has many different levels,” Mackelmore said in the third installment of his CRWN interview presented by MySpace. “We can spend this whole time talking about it. So it’s tough to dance into it and dance out of it. But, when I was growing up, even in Seattle, which is a very White city, even in Seattle, there was diversity at Hip Hop shows. Me being a White person at a Hip Hop show, I was not the majority, when I first started to go to Hip Hop shows. That started changing with Eminem. I was a little too young for the Beastie Boys, but with Eminem, that started changing. You looked at the biggest rapper in the world and he was a White dude. It opened up, kinda, the flood gates to a whole new demographic of audience member.”
On 2005’s The Language of My World, Macklemore wrote a song about the topic. “White Privilege” features the rapper’s stance on race relations.
“I see so many people lost who really try to pretend / But am I just another White boy who has caught on to the trend / When I take a step to the mic is hip-hop closer to the end / ‘Cause when I go to shows, the majority have White skin / They marketed the windmill, the air flair and head spin / And White rappers’ albums really get the most spins / The face of Hip Hop has changed a lot since Eminem / And if he’s taking away Black artists’ profits, I look just like him / Claimed a culture that wasn’t mine, the way of the American / Hip Hop is gentrified, and where will all the people live / It’s like the Central District, Beacon Hill to the South End / Being pushed farther away because of what white people did / Now, where’s my place / in a music that’s been taken by my race?”
Macklemore recalled writing the song during his CRWN interview.
“I started writing ‘White Privilege’ being at a show in Olympia, Washington, which is a very White community,” Macklemore said. “I think it was a dead prez show or something and it was all White people. I was just like, ‘This is weird as hell.'”
Macklemore also said that he benefits from White privilege in different ways.
“But it’s something that I absolutely, not only in terms of society, benefit from my White privilege but being a Hip Hop artist in 2013, I do as well,” Macklemore said. “The people that are coming to shows, the people that are connecting, that are resonating with me, that are like, ‘I look like that guy. I have an immediate connection with him.’ I benefit from that privilege and I think that mainstream Pop culture has accepted me on a level that they might be reluctant to, in terms of a person of color. They’re like, ‘Oh, this is safe. This is okay. He’s positive.’ I’m cussing my ass off in ‘Thrift Shop.’ Families are like, ‘Fucking awesome.’ I think that it’s an interesting case study and something that I feel, as a White rapper, I have a certain amount of responsibility to speak on the issue of race, knowing that it’s uncomfortable, that it’s awkward and that, in particular, White people are like, ‘Let’s just not talk about it. Everyone is equal.’ The reality is that…that’s bullshit. We absolutely see race. We all do. I think we can evolve as long as we are having discussions about it.”
Macklemore also discussed how he viewed the Trayvon Martin murder and George Zimmerman trial as a White person in the public eye.
“I talk about it on The Heist a little bit, with the Trayvon Martin case, feeling like, as a White rapper, can I talk about that? I’m also the enemy in a way, not me specifically, but the system that I’m a part of. Can i speak on that issue? Do I tweet about that? How do I bring that up? It’s something that I have to think about and yet, I think what surpasses all of it is just being a human and striving for equality for all people. But to say that race isn’t an issue in America in 2013 is just false absolutely. You look at how that case panned out and it’s a very clear indication that we have a far way to go.”
Macklemore’s The Heist mention of Trayvon Martin came on “A Wake.” The lyrics addressed can be seen below.
“My subconscious telling me stop it / This is an issue that you shouldn’t get involved in / Don’t even tweet ‘R.I.P Trayvon Martin’ / Don’t want to be that White dude, million-man marching / Fighting for a freedom that my people stole / Don’t want to make all my White fans uncomfortable / But you don’t even have a fuckin’ song for radio / Why you out here talking race, trying to save the fucking globe? Don’t get involved if the cause isn’t mine / White privilege, white guilt, at the same damn time.”
The first installment of CRWN focused on Macklemore’s rise and “Same Love.” The second included commentary about addiction and copying Freestyle Fellowship. The third part of the interview can be seen below.