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Rapper Macklemore acknowledges ‘White privilege’

Jineea Butler | 9/23/2013, 11:49 a.m.

(NNPA) – Is hip-hop losing its color? Recently rapper Macklemore recognized that it is White privilege that catapulted him to success. In a Rolling Stone cover interview, Macklemore, born Ben Haggerty, said, “If your gonna be a white dude and do this shit, I think you have to take some level of accountability. You have to acknowledge where the art came from, where it is today, how you’re benefiting from it. At the very least, just bringing up those points and acknowledging that, yes, I understand my privilege, I understand how it works for me in society, and how it works for me in 2013 with the success that The Heist has had.”

He goes on to say, “We made a great album, but do I think we benefited from being white and the media grabbing on to something. A song like ‘Thrift Shop’ was safe enough for the kids. It was like, ‘This is music that my mom likes and that I can like as a teenager,’ and even though I’m cussing my a off in the song, the fact I’m a white guy, parents feel safe. They let their six-year-olds listen to it. I mean it’s just … it’s different. And would that success have been the same if I would have been a black dude? I think the answer is no.”

Why would he need White privilege to be successful in a Black art form? Macklemore says we have to recognize where the art form came from. We know it came from Black and Brown people out of New York and they got their swag from the blues and the blues from slave hymns leading back to Africa. But in 2013, is White privilege selling hip-hop records?

Let’s first analyze the quality of African American rappers who are signed by major record labels. Most of these artists fit a stereotype and offer no level of empowerment to the art form or the culture itself. We hear rappers with destructive messages and lack logical thought. In an interview with Hardknock TV, hip-hop veteran Scarface vents, “There is no f* way that you can tell me that it’s not a conspiracy against Blacks in hip-hop. You make us look dumb. You brainwash a generation of hip-hoppers with this f crud and then when these other rappers come out, splitting it down the middle, these other rappers’ s sound like ‘Wow!’ ya’ll look great!” ‘Ya’ll look stupid!’ … Then [MFs] start going over here and pretty soon, Hip Hop is White now.”

Vulgarity aside, in so many ways, that’s true. The reality is White executives control what we hear on the airwaves. By only allowing artists who are willing to destroy their culture to be heard, you eliminate the fear of White children following behind the buffoonery. When you take the logic out of the music it becomes hard to believe.

Hip-hop was an outlet where Black millionaires were created and at its height the artist made money and branched off into other industries. Black artists and executives met the demand, populated record labels, and began heading branches, choosing new records to break, new artists to bring in and new methods of marketing. This left the White executive out in the cold and labels began to go under because they couldn’t contain the money that hip-hop was making and commanding.