Macklemore may be a white rapper, but he’s also super aware of how that informs his experience in relation to other rap big names.
Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, burst onto the scene last year with his catchy smash hit Thrift Shop.
The infectious tune itself even made reference to and critique of some common rap tropes — namely spending a lot of money on designer clothes — but the rapper himself is not unaware or unselfconscious about the role of race in rap.
Macklemore talked about his feelings on race, white privilege, and other related subjects during a recent Rolling Stone cover interview, and he pulled no punches in describing his feelings on how skin color can inform one’s ability to rise to the top.
Gawker quotes Macklemore’s Rolling Stone interview, in which he says in part:
“If you’re going to be a white dude and do this sh*t, I think you have to take some level of accountability. You have to acknowledge where the art came from, where it is today, how you’re benefiting from it. At the very least, just bringing up those points and acknowledging that, yes, I understand my privilege, I understand how it works for me in society, and how it works for me in 2013 with the success that The Heist has had.”
He continues, noting that being white has been a boon in getting noticed as a rap act and has helped the saltier language of Thrift Shop get “a pass” white the parents of white America:
“We made a great album… but I do think we have benefited from being white and the media grabbing on to something. A song like ‘Thrift Shop’ was safe enough for the kids. It was like, ‘This is music that my mom likes and that I can like as a teenager,’ and even though I’m cussing my ass off in the song, the fact that I’m a white guy, parents feel safe. They let their six-year-olds listen to it. I mean it’s just … it’s different. And would that success have been the same if I would have been a black dude? I think the answer is no.”
Macklemore’s RS interview, in which white privilege was discussed in part, went on sale Friday.