Macklemore Explains, Over-Explains “White Privilege II” & The Iggy Azalea Namecheck
It speaks to the climate of online music discourse and the hot take economy that the Iggy Azalea angle of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis‘ “White Privilege II,” which was the most self-explanatory and insignificant portion of the song, is getting the most play and being trumped up as a “diss.” Quick refresher: Macklemore raps “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 and the rest of those artists have all been accused of cultural appropriation, so that line isn’t a diss, it’s a statement of fact.
Macklemore unpacked the controversial, thinkpiece-spawning song for Rolling Stone before it was even out, and explained why the names are in there.
“I think that people get put into boxes, and the conversation around cultural appropriation — I was at the forefront of that, rightfully so,” he said. “And that conversation also included Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea, and that’s why their names are on the record.”
As for the rest of the song, the rapper goes on at length about how it was his way of thinking out loud about the Black Lives Matter movement and his place in hip-hop and a racially divided America and What It All Means. In case the song’s nine minutes’ worth of these thoughts didn’t sate your appetite, here’s a chunk of his postscript:
“It’s not about me. Even though I am the subject, because I’m writing it from my point of view — which I thought was very important — starting the song at a protest, hearing ‘black lives matter’ for the first time, not knowing what to do, moving on to all of this internalized shit in my head that I’m processing, that I’m going through, hearing different people’s perspectives, coming to some sort of conclusion, still asking that question: Will I show up for black lives at the end of this? I had to do all this out loud and come to the conclusion that this is not about me. So if I’m put on blast, critiqued, broken down, questioned — all those things will happen, and they are completely valid. That’s part of the design of the conversation.”