Macklemore Clarifies Iggy Azalea ‘Diss Track’ “White Privilege II”

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Macklemore has offered further explanation as to why he chose to name check Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea in his buzz single, “White Privilege II”.

Despite attempting to open up conversation around the concept of white privilege and the increasingly tense subject of cultural appropriation, Macklemore’s “White Privilege II” has been boiled down to an supposed feud between him and Iggy Azalea. Sitting down with Rolling Stone, the Boston raised hip-hop star speaks out about the intended purpose of the track.

The entire interview is a fascinating read, but people will undoubtedly focus on his reasoning behind including pop artists Iggy Azalea and Miley Cyrus in his criticism. On that subject he says:

“That second verse is… 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.”

His argument, albeit convoluted, appears to be that rather than a direct criticism from him, the lyrics are addressing the criticism that was leveled at Cyrus, Azalea and himself. The lyrics read, “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,” so it’s easy to understand the widespread confusion of message that followed.

He goes on to reveal that he worked with academics and racial rights activists on the track, elaborating:

“I think that, as a white person stepping into doing any sort of anti-systematic-racism type of work, asking yourself, ‘What is your intention?’ needs to happen on a consistent basis. Check yourself. Check yourself. Check yourself, like, constantly. ‘Why am I making this song? Why am I making this song? Why am I making this song?’ Because through all the variations of this record, we lost perspective. As you do on a lot of records. I remember a very pivotal point. The song was like halfway done and Ryan asked me, ‘Where do you go from here, now? You make this song. You call out yourself. And you talk about cultural appropriation. But at the same time, you’re benefitting from the same thing you’re calling out. And there’s no way not to, and there’s no way to make this record and exempt yourself from still benefitting in a certain capacity.’ And I think that I had to continue to come back to, ‘Is this record, with all of the inherent flaws in it, is it better in the world, or not?’ And I couldn’t answer that just by myself.”

Macklemore’s attitude is perhaps a little self-righteous, and it’s not hard to see why he’s been accused of painting himself in the ‘white savior’ role, but the most interesting part of the interview is undoubtedly his discussion of morality.

“The question is, What type of human do I want to be? How do I want to use my platform? Do I want to be safe, under the umbrella of my white privilege? Or do I want to push back and resist? There’s not a right or wrong answer for any human out there, it’s just an individual question, and I think that, for a long time, we were safe. It’s easier, as a white person, to be silent about racial injustice. It’s easier. On paper. But it’s not easier on the whole, because injustice affects all of us, whether we know it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not. At a certain point, this song might affect sales, this might affect touring, but it doesn’t matter if I’m not speaking up – if I’m not pushing myself to speak truth.”

You can read the remainder of Macklemore’s interview here.

In a world where race discussions are still a cause of enormous controversy – you need only look at the current discourse surrounding the Oscars for proof – there can be no harm in people banding together to fight racism and oppression. As long as those people who deem themselves allies remember to check their privilege along the way.

What are your thoughts on white privilege – both the song and the concept?