Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, the hip-hop duo who scored significant attention with “Same Love” in 2012, are getting a great deal of media attention once more with “White Privilege II,” a follow-up to their song “White Privilege,” which was released in 2005. Featuring poet and singer Jamila Woods, the song was released in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, but it is garnering some negative attention in spite of the intent of the song.
if you need a macklemore song to understand what's going on then you are the problem— . (@RUCKAZOID) January 22, 2016
I have a problem with the system that allows macklemore to reach the acclaim he has in such little time. Not macklemore himself.— Nevada, Las Vegas (@moisturizeds) January 22, 2016
Macklemore seems to address his own success in the song, which outlines, among other issues, the fact that the American celebrity culture seems to borrow liberally from the black culture, according to Genius.com. Macklemore also notes that as a white artist, he seems to be protected thanks to the “supremacist” attitudes he sees.
“White supremacy protects the privilege I hold/White supremacy is the soil, the foundation, the cement and the flag that flies outside of my home/White supremacy is our country’s lineage, designed for us to be indifferent,” he says in the song.
He also calls out Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea, according to Newsweek, for their roles in “exploiting and misappropriating black culture.”
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ new album, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, is not due out until February 26, according to the Wall Street Journal, but the release of “White Privilege II” will no doubt serve as a significant reminder about the album, as conversation is already starting to heat up about it. The song is already receiving accolades for its power and its poignancy, even as some on social media might remark about the song’s content or that Macklemore is actually of Caucasian descent.
“We take all we want from black culture, but will we show up for black lives?” is one such example of Macklemore’s lyrics, and it is a question that drives people to reflect about what they are doing before they forge ahead with what the artist seems to perceive as their theft from black culture. With incidents like the Trayvon Martin shooting a few years ago, among others, it is small wonder that Macklemore is trying to press home the point that all lives do matter.
Macklemore notes in the song that the fire department would turn a hose on a home that was burning, saying that they wouldn’t hose down all houses because it’s the burning house that needs the water the most. He also says that it’s his generation that should continue the fight for black lives since that ultimately helps all lives.
“My generation has taken on the torch of a very age-old fight for black liberation, but also liberation for anyone, and injustice anywhere is still injustice everywhere,” he says in the song.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis also said in a statement accompanying the release of “White Privilege II” that it was their intent to continue to use their music as a way to help work towards social and racial equity.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis said they promised to “find ways in which we can leverage our platform and network towards strengthening the work of organizers and initiatives framed by genuine racial and social equity” in the statement.
Macklemore also has given the listening public what is probably one of his longest songs, certainly one of his longest since the 2012 release of “Same Love,” which clocks in at just over seven minutes. “White Privilege II” is two minutes longer and nearly double the length of the original “White Privilege.”
[Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for T-Mobile]