Macklemore on rap and racial injustice
"As an artist, I am committed to using my platform, resources and creativity to have an impact on racial and social justice issues." -- Macklemore
Premiered Thursday, Oct. 15
Watch it at www.youtube.com/user/NYSWritersInstitute
Benjamin Hammond Haggerty, known by his stage name Macklemore, is an American rapper and songwriter who rose to fame as a part of the well-known hip hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. His music videos have been viewed more than 3 billion times.
In a 2012 documentary, Macklemore said that he spent most of his 20s trying to combat his addictions and destructive way of life:
"I want to be someone who is respected and not just in terms of my music. I want to be respected in terms of the way that I treat people... Music is my creative outlet in terms of expressing what is important to me; what has importance, what has a value. And I want to be respected for that."
Macklemore is one of only two rappers to have a Diamond-certified single. Gemini, his first solo effort in 12 years, was released in September 2017. It debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and No. 1 on the charts for rap, R&B/hip hop and independent albums.
Listen to Macklemore's "White Privilege II"
White Privilege II Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Pulled into the parking lot, parked it Zipped up my parka, joined the procession of marchers In my head like, "Is this awkward? Should I even be here marching?" Thinking if they can't, how can I breathe? Thinking that they chant, what do I sing? I want to take a stance cause we are not free And then I thought about it, we are not we Am I in the outside looking in, Or am I in the inside looking out? Is it my place to give my two cents? Or should I stand on the side and shut my mouth? No justice, no peace, okay, I'm saying that They're chanting out, Black Lives Matter, But I don't say it back Is it okay for me to say? I don't know, so I watch and stand
In front of a line of police that look the same as me Only separated by a badge, A baton, a can of Mace, a mask
A shield, a gun with gloves and hands that gives an alibi
In case somebody dies behind a bullet that flies out of the 9 Takes another child's life on sight
Blood in the streets, no justice, no peace No racist beliefs, no rest 'til we're free
There's blood in the streets, no justice, no peace No racist beliefs, no rest 'til we're free Blood in the streets, no justice, no peace No racist beliefs, no rest 'til we're free There's blood in the streets, no justice, no peace No racist beliefs, no rest 'til we're free Blood in the streets, no justice, no peace No racist beliefs, no rest 'til we're free There's blood in the streets, no justice, no peace No racist beliefs, no rest 'til we're free Oh, what are you doing Ben? What are you doing here?
"Probably shouldn't be here, you have white supremacy, don't fuckin' come here. — You don't give a shit about us. — 'Black Lives Matter, ' say it. — Wow. — 'Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter.' — You should not have done that. Why the fuck would you do that? — You always react. Just let it go, man. — White racist. — It's the Grammys!" 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
Fake and so plastic, you've heisted the magic You've taken the drums and the accent you rapped in
Your brand of hip-hop, it's so fascist and backwards That Grandmaster Flash'd go slap it, you bastard All the money that you made All the watered down pop-bullshit version of the culture, pal Go buy a big-ass lawn, go with your big-ass house Get a big-ass fence, keep people out It's all stolen, anyway, can't you see that now? There's no way for you to even that out You can join the march, protest, scream and shout But they see through it all, people believe you now? You said publicly, "Rest in peace, Mike Brown" You speak about equality, but do you really mean it? Are you marching for freedom, or when it's convenient? Want people to like you, want to be accepted That's probably why you are out here protesting Don't think for a second you don't have incentive Is this about you, well, then what's your intention? What's the intention? What's the intention?
Hands up? Don't shoot! Hands up? Don't shoot!
Hands up? Don't shoot! Hands up? Don't shoot! Hands up? Don't shoot! Hands up? Don't shoot! Hands up? Don't shoot! Hands up? Don't shoot! Hands up? Don't shoot! Hands up? Don't shoot! Hands up? Don't shoot! Hands up? Don't shoot! Hands up? Don't shoot! Hands up? Don't shoot!
Pssst, I totally get it, you're by yourself And the last thing you want to do is take a picture But seriously, my little girl loves you She's always singing, 'I'm gonna pop some tags' I'm not kidding, my oldest, you even got him to go thrifting And 'One Love,' oh my God, that song, brilliant Their aunt is gay, when that song came out My son told his whole class he was actually proud That's so cool, look what you're accomplishing Even the old mom like me likes it, cause it's positive You're the only hip-hop that I let my kids listen to Cause you get it, all that negative stuff it isn't cool Yeah? Yeah, like, all the guns and the drugs The bitches and the hoes and the gangs and the thugs
Even the protest outside, so sad, and so dumb If a cop pulls you over, it's your fault if you run Huh? So, they feel that the police are discriminating against the... the black people? — I have an advantage? Why? Cause I'm white? (laughs) What? (laughs) No. — See, more people nowadays are just pussies. Like, this is the generation to be offended by everything. — 'Black Lives Matter' thing is a reason to take arms up over perceived slights. — I'm not prejudiced, I just... — 99% of the time, across this country, the police are doing their job properly.
Damn, a lot of opinions, a lot of confusion, a lot of resentment Some of us scared, some of us defensive And most of us aren't even paying attention It seems like we're more concerned with being called racist Than we actually are with racism I've heard that silences are action and God knows that I've been passive What if I actually read a article, actually had a dialogue Actually looked at myself, actually got involved? If I'm aware of my privilege and do nothing at all, I don't know Hip-hop has always been political, yes It's the reason why this music connects
So what the fuck has happened to my voice if I stay silent when black people are dying Then I'm trying to be politically correct? I can book a whole tour, sell out the tickets Rap entrepreneur, built his own business If I'm only in this for my own self-interest, not the culture that gave me a voice to begin with Then this isn't authentic, it is just a gimmick The DIY underdog, so independent But the one thing the American dream fails to mention Is I was many steps ahead to begin with My skin matches the hero, likeness, the image America feels safe with my music in their systems And it's suited me perfect, the role, I've fulfilled it And if I'm the hero, you know who gets cast as the villain White supremacy isn't just a white dude in Idaho White supremacy protects the privilege I hold White supremacy is the soil, the foundation, the cement and the flag that flies outside of my home White supremacy is our country's lineage, designed for us to be indifferent My success is the product of the same system that let off Darren Wilson – guilty We want to dress like, walk like, talk like, dance like, yet we just stand by We take all we want from black culture, but will we show up for black lives? We want to dress like, walk like, talk like, dance like, yet we just stand by We take all we want from black culture, but will we show up for black lives?
Black Lives Matter, to use an analogy, is like if... if there was a subdivision and a house was on fire. The fire department wouldn't show up and start putting water on all the houses because all houses matter. They would show up and they would turn their water on the house that was burning because that's the house that needs the help the most. — My generation's taken on the torch of a very age-old fight for black liberation, but also liberation for everyone. Injustice anywhere is still injustice everywhere. — The best thing white people can do is talk to each other, having those very difficult, very painful conversations with your parents, with your family members. — I think one of the critical questions for white people in this society is, 'What are you willing to risk? What are you willing to sacrifice to create a more just society?'
Your silence is a luxury, hip-hop is not a luxury Your silence is a luxury, hip-hop is not a luxury Your silence is a luxury, hip-hop is not a luxury Your silence is a luxury, hip-hop is not a luxury What I got for me, it is for me What we made, we made to set us free What I got for me, it is for me What we made, we made to set us free What I got for me, it is for me What we made, we made to set us free Songwriters: Ben Haggerty / Hollis Wear / Evan Flory-barnes / Glen Lane Reynolds / Joshua Robert Rawlings / Jamila Abidemi Woods / Darian James Asplund / Larry Darnell Jr Griffin / Josh "budo" Karp / D'vonne Lewis / Ryan Le White Privilege II lyrics © Ryan Lewis Publishing, Macklemore Publishing, Mrl Entertainment, M&rl Music, Gutterfunk, You've Come This Far Now Join Us Music, Blk Girl Art