Macklemore & Ryan Lewis drew attention in January when they released “White Privilege II,” a lengthy track off their new album where the duo’s MC raps about racism, Black Lives Matter, and cultural appropriation. Among the song’s critics was Iggy Azalea, who publicly critized Macklemore for accusing her of appropriation in his lyrics. Macklemore has now responded to Azalea’s critique in a new interview with Billboard.
The MC first reiterated his claim that he was implicating himself along with Azalea and the other white performers — Miley Cyrus and Elvis Presley — he suggested had “exploited and stolen the music” in the lyrics of “White Privilege II.” He then specifically discussed Azalea. “Iggy and I came up together,” he said. “We were on the XXL ‘Freshman’ cover together. There’s enough of a relationship that I should have let her know beforehand. And I didn’t do that. … I haven’t talked to her.”
Azalea tweeted in January that Macklemore “shouldn’t have spent the last 3 yrs having friendly convos and taking pictures together at events etc if those were his feelings.” Her comment in turn drew criticism from rapper Talib Kweli, who noted that he “actually rooted for Iggy when she first came out. But she’s disrespected hip hop culture too many times.”
In Billboard‘s story, Macklemore — who has himself come under fire for cultural appropriation — addressed why he didn’t include a white rapper, particularly Eminem, in the song’s lyrics. “He’s a white person who raps,” he said. “I think regardless of where you come from or how amazing you are, you’re still a white person appropriating a black art form.”