Macklemore On Racism And Hip Hop: ‘This Is Not My Culture To Begin With’

By Alyssa Pereira

Recently, when Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks got into an emotionally-charged feud over racism in hip hop and cultural appropriation, other artists and celebrities took sides.

It’s by no means a new conversation, though it was certainly brought front and center following the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown by white police officers earlier this year.

Macklemore, a white rapper, inadvertently became part of the conversation last year when his 2013 record The Heist took home the Best Rap Album Grammy over Kendrick Lamar’s stellar Good Kid M.A.A.D. City. Still, he resolved to keep his silence in the mass media regarding racial relations and hip hop, due to fear of offending someone by saying the wrong thing, or the possibility of hijacking the conversation, which some believe can be entirely not helpful.

This week, however, he decided to speak up.

“As a white rapper, I’m like, how do I participate in this conversation? How do I get involved on a level where I’m not co-opting the movement or I’m not making it about me, but also realizing the platform I have and the reach that I have, and doing it in an authentic, genuine way?” he said to Hot 97. “Because race is uncomfortable to talk about. White people, we can just turn off the TV when we’re sick of talking about race. We can be like, ‘No, I’m done.'”

Macklemore’s statement is a stark contrast to Iggy Azalea’s response to claims that she has been co-opting the culture. Rather, it falls more in line with the subsequent, eloquent lesson on the socio-political background of hip hop delivered by Q-Tip aimed at Azalea.

He goes on:

You need to know your place in the culture. Are you contributing or are you taking? Are you using it for your own advantage or are you contributing? I saw a tweet that said, ‘Hip hop was birthed out of the civil rights movement.’ This is a culture that came from pain and oppression. It was the byproduct [of white oppression]. We can say we’ve come a long way since the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, but we haven’t. 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. This is not my culture to begin with. As much as I have honed my craft…I do believe that I need to know my place.

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