Macklemore is a rapper who, in the past, has released songs about penises and thrift shop clothing. He has been dismissed as phony, illegitimate and a sellout.
Regardless of Macklemore’s reputation, he’s always been socially conscious. He first rapped about racial inequality in 2005 on “White Privilege.” Now he’s back with “White Privilege II,” the second single from his upcoming album This Unruly Mess I’ve Made.
At times, Macklemore’s message is rambling and repetitive. Choosing to make a song about such a culturally relevant issue is great, but the song is eight minutes and 45 seconds and the instrumentals are all over the place. The somewhat discombobulated political statement is interspersed with soulful samples/dialogue and vocals from Jamila Woods, all complemented by typically piano-heavy production from Ryan Lewis.
Despite the blemishes, Macklemore still has thoughtful commentary. He acknowledges the cultural appropriation some might see in his music, saying, “You’ve taken the drums and the accent you rapped in / Your brand of hip hop it’s so fascist and backwards / That Grandmaster Flash’d go slap it, you bastard,” and taking it a step further by reiterating his genuine interest in making racial progress.
At best, he’s using his platform to bring more light to an important social issue. At worst, he’s using such a serious matter to add to his success/street credit as a social activist and entertainer.
What results from his efforts may not be a well-executed attempt, but it is an attempt. And in times like these, in this social climate, that’s worth something.