Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Draw Mixed Reactions on “White Privilege II”

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, White Privilege II © Macklemore LLC

Hmm, what does one make of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – specifically Macklemore? The Internet went crazy when the rapper dropped free nine-minute track, “White Privilege II.” The reaction was exactly what one would expect – mixed. Some appreciated Macklemore raising the social issue, particularly being a white male. Others obviously took offense questioning if Macklemore totally understands the depth of “white privilege,” etc.

So, after listening a couple of times to “White Privilege II,” what are the thoughts of yours truly? Ultimately, mixed. Give credit to Macklemore for being an unaffected voice (since he’s white) and speaking out about being conscious of certain privileges that other races, specifically blacks, don’t have that whites take for granted, etc.. Many white musicians wouldn’t tackle this issue AND some black ones wouldn’t either, so to reiterate, give Macklemore credit in his intentions if nothing else.

Here’s the skepticism about Macklemore’s latest endeavor. It is just me, or does it seem like Macklemore may be trying too hard? It’s an odd situation you might say. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis bested Kendrick Lamar for Grammys a couple of years back. While the rap community was outraged, Macklemore seemed to take responsibility when he didn’t have to, going so far as to apologize to Kendrick Lamar for winning. It was by no means his fault that he won a Grammy and he personally had no reason to be apologetic – that’s on the voters who chose to award him. But perhaps that shows how ‘big’ a man Macklemore is.

Here again, Macklemore takes it upon himself to join another racially-driven situation/conversation, but the question is why? Why is Macklemore so passionate about this? Is it still guilt because he knows the good (not necessarily classic) The Heist somehow defeated the classic Good Kid M.A.A.D. City and the black community was “up in arms” or is he just genuinely passionate and outraged about the privilege and racial issues within the country?

Ultimately, “White Privilege” is worth the look because it starts a conversation if nothing else. As an artistic statement, it definitely isn’t shallow as it tackles a relevant topic. As a song, it’s ‘all over the place,’ definitely not lending itself to being a ‘hit,’ but that’s not the intention anyways – it’s a statement; a work of art.  Again, my reaction is mixed – credit where credit is due, but skeptical.

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