Macklemore threw in his two cents in the ongoing discussion on race, hip hop and cultural appropriation during an hour long interview with Hot 97.
“Just because there’s been more successful white rappers, you cannot disregard where this culture came from and our place in it as white people,” he said. “This is not a culture that white people started. I do believe that as much as I have honed my craft and put in years of dedication into the music that I love, I need to know my place.”
Though he declined to directly comment on Azealia Bank’s controversy, Macklemore did raise thought-provoking points about white privilege, police brutality against blacks, why he is accepted by white America, and the importance of having a race conversation in the United States.
Macklemore admitted to not wanting to discuss race for fear of saying the wrong thing.
“For me, as a white dude – as a white rapper – I’m like: ‘How do I participate in this conversation? How do I get involved to a level where I’m not co-opting the movement, or I’m not making it about me, but also realizing the platform and reach that I have, and doing it in an authentic way?’
“I was talking to somebody the other day. They said to me: ‘Silence is an action.’ It’s my privilege that I can be silent about this issue. I’m tired of being silent about it. I’ve been silent for a long time about it. I didn’t want to mess up. I didn’t want to offend anybody. It is so imperative that we have this race conversation in America if we’re going to progress.”
The “Thift Shop” singer also suggested that he can get away with things that black rappers couldn’t because of his race.
“Why can I cuss and have a parental advisory sticker on my album, and still parents are like: ‘You’re the only rapper I let my kids listen to?'” Macklemore asked.
“Why can I wear a hoodie, and not be a thug? Why can I sag my pants, and not be a gangbanger? Why am I on Ellen’s couch? Why am I on Good Morning America? If I was black, what would my drug addiction look like?”
This is one of Macklemore’s most candid and perceptive interviews on race since his own Grammy backlash, and the full video is definitely worth a watch.