Rapper says he's among white artists 'rightfully critiqued' for appropriating black culture

By Oliver Gettell
January 26, 2016 at 11:53 PM EST
Maro Hagopian

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ new track “White Privilege II” has stirred up controversy by calling out white artists such as Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea for appropriating black culture.

But Macklemore, a.k.a. Ben Haggerty, said Tuesday that many listeners have missed one of the song’s notable targets: himself.

“That whole verse is me implicating myself,” the rapper said in an interview with Sway in the Morning on Sirius XM. “I think a lot of people has misinterpreted it. So it says, Ben, think about it. ‘You’ve exploited and stolen the music, the moment. The magic, the passion, the fashion you toy with. The culture was never yours to make better. You’re Miley, you’re Elvis, you’re Iggy Azalea.'”

Macklemore continued, “We’re all in the same place. We’re all in the same sphere. We are white artists that in the last couple years have been rightfully critiqued as appropriating black culture and benefiting from it.”

Macklemore has long been at the center of discussions about cultural appropriation, which were highlighted when he beat Kendrick Lamar for best rap album at the Grammys two years ago.

He also said of the new track, “It was important for me in this song to come from a real place. I think that if I just got on the microphone and started talking about white privilege like, ‘Yo I’ve read this book and that book and I know what’s up, I’ve had these conversations,’ that’s not inviting. I need to come to that conversation how I felt.”

Listen to clips of Macklemore’s interview above.