Macklemore Sounds Off on Race, White Privilege, & Grammys

In the wake of Azealia Banks’ race-fueled dialogue on Hot 97, Macklemore stopped by “Ebro in the Morning” to weigh in on race, white privilege, and his infamous text to Kendrick Lamar following the Grammys.

He watched Azealia’s emotional interview and felt for her. “There’s a lot of truth in that interview. When she starts crying, it’s like, ‘Man, this is heavy,'” said Macklemore.

Following the Mike Brown and Eric Garner non-indictments, the outspoken Seattle rapper protested in the streets and spoke out on social media. During his hour-long interview with Ebro and Peter Rosenberg, he denounced the racial injustice in America.

“Eric Garner, Mike Brown, very sad situations. Situations that left so much frustration in me. If there’s anything positive that has come out of their deaths, I believe that it’s brought attention to the injustices that have been plaguing America since the jump. Racial profiling, corrupt judicial system, police brutality. These are things that now have attention. People are mobilizing, and I’ve been inspired by the mobilization.”

As a white rapper, he was inspired to get involved. “It’s my privilege that I can be silent about this issue, and I’m tired of being silent about it. Like I’ve been silent for a long time about it ’cause I didn’t want to mess up, didn’t want to offend anybody.”

He called for people of all races to band together. “It is so imperative that we have this race conversation in America, if we’re gonna progress, if we’re gonna move past this, if we’re going to work together.”

The “Thrift Shop” hitmaker recognizes that white privilege has played a role in his career. “To me, the privilege that exists in the music industry is just the greater symptom of the privilege that exists in America,” he explained. “There’s no difference, this is just the bi-product, an off-brand of what’s happening in America. People see me, they resonate with me. America’s predominantly white…there’s relatability.”

His success didn’t happen overnight, but when it did, he was embraced by mainstream America. “It took a long time to get to a point where I was noticed at all. I was an underground rapper for over a decade, but once we got that viral video, once we built up enough momentum organically through the underground, it hit and people were like, ‘We love this.’ And all of a sudden, I’m put in this box of the ‘anti-bling rapper’ or the ‘Same Love’ guy who’s all for equality. … I got put in that hero box, and it’s because of privilege. It all boils down to privilege.”

Macklemore swept the rap categories including Best Rap Album at this year’s Grammys, which sparked outrage. He apologized to fellow nominee Kendrick Lamar in a text, which he posted on Instagram. Looking back, Macklemore realizes that he shouldn’t have shared it with the world. “I made a mistake,” said Macklemore. “A lot of fear was going into that moment.”

“I betrayed Kendrick’s trust. That’s my homie, I betrayed his trust. That’s wack. If we did win Best Rap Album, I was going to say how I felt at the podium.”

He also weighed in on this year’s nominees for Best Rap Album, which include ScHoolboy Q, Eminem, Iggy Azalea, Childish Gambino, Common, and Wiz Khalifa. “I would love to see [ScHoolboy Q] win,” he said. “Q is one of my best friends in this industry. I’m gonna be biased.”

But he wouldn’t be surprised if history repeats itself and another white rapper wins. “This is again the same system so people are going to put their ballots in the exact same way that they did last year,” he said.

He also acknowledged YG’s snub. “It’s a damn shame YG is not in this conversation ’cause YG made a great album,” he said of the Compton rapper’s critically-acclaimed debut My Krazy Life.

Watch the in-depth and insightful interview below.