Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ latest song, “White Privilege II,” featuring the poet and singer Jamila Woods is still a hot topic. The former XXL Freshman clarified to RollingStone why he name dropped another white former XXL Freshman, Iggy Azalea, on the track. Macklemore explains that he didn’t use Iggy and Miley as scapegoats for appropriation but rather just holding accountable all white musicians profiting off black culture, including himself.
“For me, that second verse is unpacking,” he said. “It’s an unpacking moment of internalized criticism and self-doubt, and ‘What have I done,’ and letting the criticism infiltrate who I am. ‘Why am I insecure at a protest?’ And I think that people get put into boxes, and the conversation around cultural appropriation — I was at the forefront of that, rightfully so. And that conversation also included Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea, and that’s why their names are on the record.”
The Grammy Award winner artist also said he expected the song to garner a lot of attention. He also stated a hip-hop legend—who he wouldn’t name—encouraged him to make the song. “It was a defining moment,” he said. “‘Silence is an action’ was a perfect representation of where I had been. So it was like, I can continue to be safe, and to rest in my privilege, and to not speak up, and the system perpetuates itself – or I can try to engage in the conversation, knowing that I don’t have all the answers, knowing that I have so much to learn.”
On “White Privilege II,” which is off Macklemore’s upcoming LP The Unruly Mess I’ve Made, the honest MC name-checks Iggy Azalea and Miley Cyrus. “You’ve exploited and stolen the music, the moment, the magic, the passion the fashion, you toy with/The culture was never, yours to make better/You’re Miley you’re Elvis, you’re Iggy Azalea,” he raps. Iggy immediately spoke out on being mentioned on the song. “He shouldn’t have spent the last 3 yrs having friendly convos and taking pictures together at events etc if those were his feelings,” she wrote on Twitter after a fan asked her about the name-drop. The comment started a public war of words between Iggy and Talib Kweli, who felt that Azalea missed Macklemore’s point. Hip-hop fans also took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the song.
One person who reached out to the Seattle rapper about the track was Black activist DeRay Mckesson, who was recently on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Mckesson recently took to Twitter to reveal the gist of the conversation he had with Mack.
“When I first heard Macklemore’s new song, ‘White Privilege II,’ I DM’d him asking if he’d be down to talk. We talked for an hour this morning,” Mckesson started off. “As I’ve said from the beginning, I think Macklemore’s song is important. And all art, including his song, is open to critique…We talked about the impetus for the song & he noted that it was Darren Wilson’s non-indictment & the protests that pushed him to write…& Macklemore understands that awareness is the beginning, not the end, of the work. He will be (rightly) judged by the actions that follow.”
The song is a sequel to Macklemore’s 2005 “White Privilege.”