Macklemore Says He Benefits From White Privilege, Explains Eminem's Influence

Macklemore talks about why he was inspired to write "White Privilege" and discusses his feelings regarding the Trayvon Martin murder and George Zimmerman trial.

Macklemore recently spoke about Eminem's influence on Hip Hop, his feelings regarding the Trayvon Martin murder and White privilege.

"White privilege is a fascinating topic and it is one that has many different levels," Mackelmore said in the third installment of his CRWN interview presented by MySpace. "We can spend this whole time talking about it. So it's tough to dance into it and dance out of it. But, when I was growing up, even in Seattle, which is a very White city, even in Seattle, there was diversity at Hip Hop shows. Me being a White person at a Hip Hop show, I was not the majority, when I first started to go to Hip Hop shows. That started changing with Eminem. I was a little too young for the Beastie Boys, but with Eminem, that started changing. You looked at the biggest rapper in the world and he was a White dude. It opened up, kinda, the flood gates to a whole new demographic of audience member."

On 2005's The Language of My World, Macklemore wrote a song about the topic. "White Privilege" features the rapper's stance on race relations. 

"I see so many people lost who really try to pretend / But am I just another White boy who has caught on to the trend / When I take a step to the mic is hip-hop closer to the end / 'Cause when I go to shows, the majority have White skin / They marketed the windmill, the air flair and head spin / And White rappers' albums really get the most spins / The face of Hip Hop has changed a lot since Eminem / And if he's taking away Black artists' profits, I look just like him / Claimed a culture that wasn't mine, the way of the American / Hip Hop is gentrified, and where will all the people live / It's like the Central District, Beacon Hill to the South End / Being pushed farther away because of what white people did / Now, where's my place / in a music that's been taken by my race?" 

Macklemore recalled writing the song during his CRWN interview. 

"I started writing 'White Privilege' being at a show in Olympia, Washington, which is a very White community," Macklemore said. "I think it was a dead prez show or something and it was all White people. I was just like, 'This is weird as hell.'" 

Macklemore also said that he benefits from White privilege in different ways.  

"But it's something that I absolutely, not only in terms of society, benefit from my White privilege but being a Hip Hop artist in 2013, I do as well," Macklemore said. "The people that are coming to shows, the people that are connecting, that are resonating with me, that are like, 'I look like that guy. I have an immediate connection with him.' I benefit from that privilege and I think that mainstream Pop culture has accepted me on a level that they might be reluctant to, in terms of a person of color. They're like, 'Oh, this is safe. This is okay. He's positive.' I'm cussing my ass off in 'Thrift Shop.' Families are like, 'Fucking awesome.' I think that it's an interesting case study and something that I feel, as a White rapper, I have a certain amount of responsibility to speak on the issue of race, knowing that it's uncomfortable, that it's awkward and that, in particular, White people are like, 'Let's just not talk about it. Everyone is equal.' The reality is that...that's bullshit. We absolutely see race. We all do. I think we can evolve as long as we are having discussions about it." 

Macklemore also discussed how he viewed the Trayvon Martin murder and George Zimmerman trial as a White person in the public eye.

"I talk about it on The Heist a little bit, with the Trayvon Martin case, feeling like, as a White rapper, can I talk about that? I'm also the enemy in a way, not me specifically, but the system that I'm a part of. Can i speak on that issue? Do I tweet about that? How do I bring that up? It's something that I have to think about and yet, I think what surpasses all of it is just being a human and striving for equality for all people. But to say that race isn't an issue in America in 2013 is just false absolutely. You look at how that case panned out and it's a very clear indication that we have a far way to go."  

Macklemore's The Heist mention of Trayvon Martin came on "A Wake." The lyrics addressed can be seen below. 

"My subconscious telling me stop it / This is an issue that you shouldn't get involved in / Don't even tweet 'R.I.P Trayvon Martin' / Don't want to be that White dude, million-man marching / Fighting for a freedom that my people stole / Don't want to make all my White fans uncomfortable / But you don't even have a fuckin' song for radio / Why you out here talking race, trying to save the fucking globe? Don't get involved if the cause isn't mine / White privilege, white guilt, at the same damn time." 


The first installment of CRWN focused on Macklemore's rise and "Same Love." The second included commentary about addiction and copying Freestyle Fellowship. The third part of the interview can be seen below. 

RELATED: Macklemore Recalls Writing "Angry Battle Raps" After Hearing Kendrick Lamar's "Control" Verse

74 Comments

  • Dead Baron

    Macklemore is a talentless bitch.

  • Robert G

    I guess Macklemore think that being able to kill a thug who attacks you is a white privilege. I'll bet that he will be surprised to find out that black use the "right" to defend themselves more than whites do. http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/16/blacks-benefit-from-florida-stand-your-ground-law-at-disproportionate-rate/

  • g-money

    I guess Macklemore doesn't care about the black people that get away with killing of unarmed 17 year old white kids. Look up Roderick Scott and see the media bias that Macklemore doesn't care to address.

    • George

      On the account of that Roderick Scott caught Chris Cervini breaking into someone's car and the boy charged him he kind of asked for a retaliation. The TM case wasn't so clear cut and it was really a media a tactic to distract us from The Eric Snowden case, which pretty much worked.

  • ultrasas

    EMINEM MMLP2 NEW ALBUM ALREADY LEAKED! DOWNLOAD HERE: http://is.gd/mF921l

  • J.Marinko

    i appreciate the fact that a mainstream white rapper knows about white privilege - white guilt - I guess. These are college topics and I never went to a 4-year but, I'm familiar. Look up White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era by Shelby Steele

  • Young Guwop

    At least he's honest that he benefits from White privilege. His music still sucks though.

  • Violator

    It's not impossible as a black rapper to blow up on the mainstream, it's just harder. Look at lil wayne, the weirdest blackest black guy you could get, but for the last 5-6 years on average, he's been the most successful rapper. He got more twitter followers than even Drake. He ain't do 1 million first week twice in a row off black people wallets. Even the white folks who supposed to be afraid of black dudes love this predator looking nigga. For a black rapper to get to Eminem's level of popularity, he'd have to be twice as good as Eminem.

  • Anonymous

    Replace privilege with supremacy and we have something to talk about.

    • Anonymous

      "black rappers gotta dumb down to get mainstream success because any sign of intelligence is a bigger threat than any trap rapper could ever be, since they are after all they make black on black violence cool, the rappers that speak against the establishment are put on the shelf and who owns the establishment? You guessed it whites." ^ truth they don't want to admit just like another truth, they're supporting the shitty mainstream Black rappers (whites are the only ones buying music, correct?).

    • Anonymous

      It is a case of white supremacy and you said it yourself and he(mackelmore)said it. White boys are becoming prominent in hip hop just like they are prominent in middle class neighborhoods, colleges, police departments, sports team owners, major label owners, you want people to ignore that? Blacks don't own the mechanism that makes hip hop marketable so how can we be racist? The white kids are in game flourishing over their black counterparts with skills, while black rappers gotta dumb down to get mainstream success because any sign of intelligence is a bigger threat than any trap rapper could ever be, since they are after all they make black on black violence cool, the rappers that speak against the establishment are put on the shelf and who owns the establishment? You guessed it whites. So please don't get resentment confused with racism, white people still have the bigger body count against blacks even tho we are catching up on the body count against blacks.

    • zerocool6687

      Who is being the racist cunt now? The guy acknowledges he gets more props from "the powers that be" simply because of the colour of his skin. It is a strange time in hip-hop music. It was a culture that looked as it it would be what helped unite as opposed to oppress. Now that white boys have become more prominent we are seeing as much racism within as ever and it is coming from teh people that feel that white boys have no place it the music. Personally I only listen to a handful of white artists myself... not because I am confused but because I was a kid in the 90s listening to many of the same cats I prefer today. Ultimately everyone needs to stop making this a fucking issue for it to go away.

  • The Man

    Hahahahah, yes I am "The Man"! I am here to make is oh so difficult for all black people. Only black people though, they have it so damn had. Not Native American, Asian, Indian, etc..., though. You can see this by the lack of wealth and educated black people. We hold them down, that is why there are no black actors, or other entertainers. Also, there will never be a black president, because I am "The Man". No popular black physicist, or other black people of stature, including athletes. Black people have nothing, and it is all my doing! Has nothing to do with lack of motivation, it's not like there is endless opportunity which is substantiated with the likes of Obama. Our country is far too oppressive for that. As a result, everything is the while mans fault, nothing is your fault. Not one single black person does the same thing, there are no black only scholarships and schools, there are no racist black people, etc... Down with me! Down with me! Down with me!

    • Anonymous

      World history says it's time to "man" up, you've done too much dirt against the world to ever think you are immune to face the music for your actions.

  • manchita

    Eminem had to struggle in his life just like any poor person, white or black, Eminem is skin is white but his talking could be any black persons story, he is not climing white privilege he does recognize that being white made him appelling to whole new audience, But white priviledge is not only about skin colour is also about class priviledge more black and latino people staticly is destinedd to be poor and have less oportunities in life, not only in the US but in the whole world

  • SCARFACE

    hip hop is white now

  • xx004

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6W1tG-m4NSU

  • Doubl Negative

    I've never liked this dude and people like him and never will, but I respect his honesty and bravery talking about this contentious issue. Anyone who isn't asleep will see everything he stated is accurate, but when you're Black and express the same feelings you're called a racist. I love death metal music, obviously most dudes in this scene are white, but there's a band called Suffocation with a couple of Brothers in line-up; as a Black man do I denounce the entire scene because the artists don't physically resemble me and only listen to the bands with Black guys, or just appreciate the music regardless of ethnicity? Whies, especially women and homosexuals usually have an aversion to our music, except for Eminem and his ilk, this group of people unfourtunately make up the bulk of record-buying public, so sales are skewed in favour of Asher Roth type individuals when more deserving rappers like Roc Maci struggle. In regards to the Trayvon case, the racism surrounding this incident isn't the tragic event it self, but people's reactions to it. Maybe Zimmerman was acting in self defence, but had the victim in this homicide been a white kid, and the same altercation took place etc, Zimmerman would've been seen as a big evil Mexican. Both of these topics are related as they highlight the intrinsic bigotry that govens the souls of white folk. Still not gonna cop Macklemore's record though.

  • ja

    you aren't whitw, stop frontin

  • Anonymous

    im white and nigeers must die we are stealing your genre

  • Anonymous

    tooooo preacheee go to church

  • Anonymous

    oh my the struggle of wacklemore

  • Anonymous

    fagglemore wishes he wasa black, he loves the struggle.

  • bob

    There was no white privilege in the Zimmerman trial. George Zimmerman is latino. Maclemore is just another useful white idiot present in a long list of useful white idiots who go along with whatever obviously dishonest nonsense the media comes up with on a daily basis. Anyone who thinks trayvon died because of racism is fucking brainwashed moron.

  • Anonymous

    hey not all white people like this fuko im white damnit and this fool aint worth a shit dont box me in dammit eminem sux now too stop ridin

    • zerocool6687

      Doesn't make his place in the music any less important you fucking moron. The guy completely changed the face of the music... a white boy that was not just a gimmick... he was as skilled as the next. He has stumbled along the way but no more than a Snoop Dogg and Snoop didnt have all those chemicals fuck his career up he simply slipped yet people do not bitch as much. In the end people like Eminem and Macklemore tend to try to keep hip hop what it was... They both have skill, they rock baggy jeans and T shirts not leather skirts and fucking skinny jeans. Both are throw backs to what the culture once meant before assholes like Kanye and Weezy had to add their brand of ego and fuckery too it. It is amazing that so many bitch about the style and lyrical changes that no one seems to like in the game yet two guys that are generally more like the guys you miss get shit on simply because they white. Sick of this shit all the time. White, Black, Asian Latino who gives a fuck.. if the guy can spit so be it and if he keeps true to what the culture was before the primmadonnas took over even better.

    • Anonymous

      Eminem can spit, but he isn't the king of rap lmfao, calm down. Also does this Macklemore even know wtf he is talking about. Things like this are why hip-hop doesn't take it seriously.

    • Dude above me Fukin idiot

      Maclemore does suck, But eminem? more lyrical then biggie. and the king of rap. period

  • Anonymous

    he's funny and i can't dig rap that doesnt say nigga every verse

  • Anonymous

    Aint no body listen to dis liberal bitch, man thhis guy straight bubble gum pop. Just like yo sisters pussssy

  • CENTRAL BANK

    No Macklemore, you are wrong! You dont benefit from White Privilege, but instead, you benefit from the Global System of White Supremacy/Racism. In fact, all white people benefit from the Global System of White Supremacy/Racism indirectly, directly, consciously, and unconsciously; thus, making all white people racist by default! White male, white female, and white child = White Supremacy/Racism

  • John G

    Being white, I've never felt unwelcome at a rap show. Hiphop is the only music I really listen to. The hiphop community is a great place to have a race discussion; race relations may not be perfect in this country,but they have come a long way and I'd bet that it will only get better as time goes on. I was raised to uphold equality and couldnt imagine life another way. We're all Americans...isn't that all that really matters?

  • Anonymous

    why come every white rapper gets compared to eminem

  • m.black

    Uh...When Mackelemore starts talking about what non-whites should do to stop the ABUSE/SUBJUGATION coming from white folks then i'm all ears. White Privilege tho???...This SHOULDN'T be news to people...that is unless your either a white person trying playing the psycho game of "were all equal" or your a non-white thirsty for white validation...And if you are...it's not your fault...just step back and think deeply...If you aren't too far gone then you'll begin to connect the dots...

  • Truth

    Seems like a decent dude, can't get into his music tho, and fk white privilege and all racism.. period.

  • Anonymous

    EMINEM'S INFLUENCE??? THIS MUFUCKA TOOK HIS HOLE THRIFT SHOP SHIT FROM EMINEM!!!

  • Anonymous

    WHITES ARE THE ONLY ONES BUYING THIS CLOWNS SHIT

    • zerocool6687

      "To add insult to injury, according to your logic, whites support Trinidad James, Chief Keef, Juicy J, 2Chainz, Wayne, Raekwon, Jay Z, Kanye West, J Cole, Kid Cudi, Drake, Roc Marciano. Ka, Jadakiss, Wiz Khalifa, Action Bronson, Prodigy, everybody?" Funny thing is I remember back in tha day while Pac was still given live interviews... he commented to how he couldn't stay hatin on white people because they be the ones buying his albums. Of course it is not JUST white kids thats fucking absurd but when you are selling records in North America and the demographics of the area is like 70+% caucasian and you're going multi-platinum... well you would have to be a complete dumb fuck to think that urban white kids who love this shit are not a big part of those sales.

    • Anonymous

      Yep, I went over their heads. You're admitting they buy Trinidad James' music, go to his shows, therefore pushing him up above other rappers who actually have something to say, so since you want to claim being the majority support, take the blame for the sh*t you're supporting.

    • nasirjones

      black people are annoying

    • Anonymous

      It's a well known fact that white people are the majority of people buying albums and going to concerts.

    • Anonymous

      "Whites are the only ones buying all albums" ^ and yet none of you have ever proven this statement as fact meanwhile, we see whites on the internet admitting that they download music. I see Blacks purchasing and having authentic copies of newly and old released music everyday. To add insult to injury, according to your logic, whites support Trinidad James, Chief Keef, Juicy J, 2Chainz, Wayne, Raekwon, Jay Z, Kanye West, J Cole, Kid Cudi, Drake, Roc Marciano. Ka, Jadakiss, Wiz Khalifa, Action Bronson, Prodigy, everybody? No, that's the white entitlement talking, and whomever is weak will fall for it, or you're admitting that whites have shitty taste and will buy anything.

    • Anonymous

      Whites are the only ones buying all albums.

  • Anonymous

    TROLL ALERT!!! NIGUUZZ!!!

  • FlyQ the Anchor

    Hey SHUT THE FUCK UP MACKLEMORE. Oh you suffered from addiction? You mean just like pretty much every other artist alive? Wow how unique. Oh man you think hating gay people is wrong? Welcome to the 21st century. And whats with the fucked up jerking around on stage? I think I'm safely not a hater if I can express several things about him I dislike. Okay now maybe give me 4 minutes and listen to my depressing song about girls and drugs and getting my ass whooped. If ya like it, listen to my other less depressing songs to boost yourself back up. Hate away, I do this for the love, unless somebody wants to pay me, then that too. https://soundcloud.com/theanchor/start-a-war comment on the song if ya wanna work with me. Been getting too many beats from awful producers to keep posting my email, feel me?

    • FlyQ the Anchor

      I called it "Start a War" primarily cause of the sample. I'm confused are you also from Saskatoon, and are you looking to battle? Your grammar is confusing. I'm not sure why I need to battle for my name. I was once in a group called News Team, hence "the anchor" if you're an actual rapper though I'd probably be down to battle on recorded tracks...

    • donnis mac

      You from Saskatoon? That's what's up. "Start A War" ^ Man, I feel like the old lady (Della Reese) in Harlem Nights talking about the orange juice. You bring up some valid points through your comment, then you want us to check a song called "Start A War". I'm thinking, dude sounding like he gotta get something off his chest! Then I hear the song, you talking about chilling and with your girl and ex. I waited until 3:26 and said enough, you taking too long to start this war. War in the bedroom? At least talk to the WOMEN, not a story about you and your girl and you got 1000's of other war in the bedroom songs to compete with. And learn the history of Hip Hop. How it's supposed to be I'd battle you for your name because you ain't FlyQ the Anchor, boat would sail away if we relied on you. You the anchor but the chain popped, we all left you there stuck in the sea and we ain't coming back for you, we just gonna cop another one. Hope that helps.

  • imho

    its a little annoying hearing all this race talk esp w him and j.cole-- theres many skilled rappers on. and they are many wack rappers on of all races.. theres no criteria- if you got a hot single youll get put on for your 15 and fall off. at this point in hiphop does it really matter what color you are-- hot beat, good catchy hook and your on for a little

  • Anonymous

    I just can't get into his music for some reason. Checkout thegrandreport, they got some good hip hop videos on there

  • Jeff

    Yes there is u mindless retard..i'm white and even i can see that u simpleton lol

  • Anonymous

    I respect him for acknowledging white privilege, he seems like a good dude.

  • Anonymous

    white privilege white entitlement go learn the difference because he's talking about entitlement, not privilege

    • YoungCosby

      I think you need to take a dose of your own medicine. Privilege: Literally meaning "private law", privilege is the state in which certain societal and/or restrictions do not apply to the individuals with said privilege. Essentially, the privileged individual is being given a head start by the system to one degree or another. There are two important facts that must be known about privilege: 1. Privilege, by definition, isn't something you do or achieve, it's something that happens to you. If you created the situation, it isn't privilege, as it was earned (for good or for ill). It CAN, however, help you earn the situation, so there can still be some element of privilege in the situation. 2. There are multiple levels of privilege, which are based on things like gender, age, ethnic background, race, sexual orientation, wealth or status as accident of birth, etc. A person may have multiple privileges; very few people have none at all. Nobody in Western society has none, as being in this society automatically counts as a form of privilege (as opposed to being born in Darfur, for example). Versus 2. Entitlement: Entitlement is the perception of privilege, and can be (and usually is) unrecognized by the person in question. This can include things like government assistance, but in more general terms indicates where you perceive yourself "in line"...That is to say, where you view yourself in the pecking order. Interestingly enough, the more privilege you have, the more you perceive your sense of entitlement to be violated or denigrated. In other words, the more privileges you have, the more downtrodden you assume yourself to be.

  • Anonymous

    wacklemore an idiot, theres no such thing as white privilege!

    • zerocool6687

      You live in North America and have the nerve to state that? Why is it so many stupid mother fuckers have to speak out when this subject somes up. If you are Canadian, which i am, then we do not have a right to comment on this as much. We are not exposed to the same level of divide as they have been in the US. If you are a US citizen then you are a credit to your society. Turning a blind eye to something that is no big secret. Open your fucking eyes or grow the fuck up.

    • YoungCosby

      You're the only idiot here, or troll that is. There's several books on White privilege. Here's a well know one: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/white-like-me-tim-wise/1101005164?ean=9781932360684

    • Jeff

      Yes there is u mindless retard..i'm white and even i can see that u simpleton lol.

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