After enjoying a long hiatus from the public spotlight after the release of his 2012 album The Heist, rapper Macklemore and his musical partner Ryan Lewis have returned with a new single entitled “White Privilege II,” which explores racism and the misappropriation of black culture. The song’s controversy does not stem from its deep and moving message of social injustice; instead, there has been backlash due to Macklemore namedropping several celebrities throughout the song who have been frequently accused of “misappropriating black culture.”
Throughout the course of the nine-minute song Macklemore raps, “You’ve exploited and stolen the music, the moment, the magic, the passion, the fashion you toyed with, the culture was never yours to make better, your Miley, your Elvis, your Iggy Azalea.” He goes on to say, “We wanna [sic] dress like, talk like, walk like, dance like, but we just stand by, we take all we want from black culture, but do we show up for black lives?”
Although the “Wrecking Ball” hit maker, Miley Cyrus, has yet to comment on Macklemore’s diss, Australian-born rapper Iggy Azalea (known for 2014’s hip-hop/pop summer anthem “Fancy”) sounded off on her Twitter account after a fan tweeted her a link to the song on YouTube. Azalea, never known to shy away from controversy, wrote, “He shouldnt [sic] have spent the last 3 yrs [sic] having friendly convos [sic] and taking pictures together at events etc if those were his feelings.” (https://twitter.com/iggyazalea/status/690451451412365317)
This is of course not the first time Azalea has been dissed in response to her image and sound. New York rapper Azealia Banks, better known for her vitriolic public persona rather than her music, has repeatedly called out Azalea for enjoying the theft of certain traits and mannerisms predominately found in black culture in her songs and music videos without supporting black issues or fighting against prejudice. After the events which transpired in Ferguson and New York involving the killing of unarmed black men, Banks sounded off on her Twitter account in a series of scathing tweets directed at Azalea. “Its [sic] funny to see people Like Igloo Australia silent when these things happen… Black Culture is cool, but black issues sure aren’t huh?” Banks tweeted. (https://twitter.com/azealiabanks/status/540299044464369664)
The issue surrounding “White Privilege II” only increased as Azalea took to her Twitter account and responded to the diss. American hip-hop artist and social activist Talib Kweli Greene joined the conversation on Twitter and blasted Azalea in defense of Macklemore’s single. Azalea and Green soon became embroiled in a lengthy Twitter war. “The fact @iggyazalea thinks Macklemore song was a diss to her, instead of actually listening, is proof of her privilege. Fuck Iggy Azalea,” Green wrote. (https://twitter.com/TalibKweli/status/690584908591304704?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw)
While the song posted on Lewis’ YouTube channel is now well over one million views, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have yet to make public comments in response to Azalea’s tweet.