Macklemore & Ryan Lewis released their new single about police brutality and appropriation of black culture, titled "White Privilege II." Listen above.
Along with the new track, the duo put up a website which includes a free download of the song, list of organizations they want to bring attention to, and all of the artists and writers they collaborated with. Notably, the song features award-winning poet and vocalist Jamila Woods. On the website under her name, she wrote about why she helped with the song:
I participated in this record because I believe strongly in the mission behind it. I was honestly wary at first because of what it sounds like: “Macklemore doing a song about Black Lives Matter...” When you hear that for the first time, it’s only natural to give it a side eye.
My hope is that this song inspires people who were not formerly engaged in Black Lives Matter or Black liberation struggles to view themselves as agents of change. It is necessary for white consumers of hip-hop to understand it as a socio-political movement, and to embrace the opportunities and responsibilities that come along with engaging in hip-hop culture.
"White Privilege II" is an intense song with inspiring lyrics, clever rhyme schemes, and passionate vocals. The use of actual sound clips and dialogue from on-street interviews during Black Lives Matter protests makes the message much more effective.
The song is a follow up to Macklemore's 2005 The Language of My World track "White Privilege," which discusses similar issues, specifically white people appropriating hip hop culture. "White Privilege II" has gotten a lot of attention, especially because he calls out Iggy Azalea, Miley Cyrus, and Elvis as "Fake and so plastic." A fan on Twitter asked Azlalea if she heard the diss, and Azalea responded, "he shouldnt have spent the last 3 yrs having friendly convos and taking pictures together at events etc if those were his feelings."
In an article on Slate, writer Forrest Wickman explains that there's been a disconnect between Macklemore's intentions and listeners' reactions.
The biggest mistake early reactions to the song have made, pretty consistently, is assuming that everything Macklemore raps is in his own voice. The song’s first verse is Macklemore himself, taking us inside his head as he feels unsure about his role at a Black Lives Matter protest. But the second verse zooms out to give a larger perspective, starting with Macklemore delivering the case against himself, in the voice of his critics. The many, many headlines that trumpet how Macklemore “calls out,” “comes for,” and “slams” Iggy Azalea and Miley Cyrus on this verse miss the larger point, which is that his real target here is himself.
Today, Rolling Stone published an interview with Macklemore that focused entirely around this new song. Macklemore explained himself what he was trying to do:
For me, that second verse is unpacking. It's an unpacking moment of internalized criticism and self-doubt, and 'What have I done,' and letting the criticism infiltrate who I am. 'Why am I insecure at a protest?' And I think that people get put into boxes, and the conversation around cultural appropriation — I was at the forefront of that, rightfully so. And that conversation also included Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea, and that's why their names are on the record.
"White Privilege II" will be a part of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' new album, This Unruly Mess I've Made, set to release on February 26, 2016. It is available for pre-order on Amazon.
For Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' latest news, tour dates, and music check out their Zumic artist page.