"We are white artists that in the last couple years have been rightfully critiqued as appropriating black culture and benefiting from it," Macklemore said in the interview.
In one particular verse, the Seattle MC, whose birth name is Ben Haggerty, calls out Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea for appropriating black culture, but he reminds listeners and fans that he’s also targeting himself.
“That whole verse is me implicating myself,” Macklemore, 32, explained in an interview with Sway in the Morning on Sirius XM Tuesday.
“I think a lot of people have 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.'”[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/243929152" params="visual=true&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
In “White Privilege II” – the follow-up to 2005’s “White Privilege” – Macklemore comments on the nation’s racism today juxtaposed with his position as a successful white rapper.
“We’re all in the same place. We’re all in the same sphere,” he added. “We are white artists that in the last couple years have been rightfully critiqued as appropriating black culture and benefiting from it.”
In the interview, the father of one noted that the song’s concept was created when he took part in a Seattle protest on the night of Darren Wilson‘s non-indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown in late 2014.
“Feeling that frustration, feeling that this is happening again and I can’t believe it,” he recalled also noting his feelings of white guilt while participating in the protest.
“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, which was hearing black lives matter chanted for the first time and not knowing that that was okay for me to say.”
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ album This Unruly Mess I’ve Made is scheduled for release Feb. 26.