“There’s blood in the streets, no justice, no peace.”
Macklemore tries his hardest, doesn’t he. He continues to give his two cents, only to be met with majority criticism and condemnation. I get it; a white male from Seattle, how oppressed can he be? Can it really be that he has two songs completely unironically titled White Privilege and White Privilege II, all whilst knowingly reaping the benefits of the very same white privilege?
It would seem the answer is yes. Macklemore is nearly the controversial artist I hate to love the most, second only to Miley Cyrus, and the funny thing is that there is an unavoidable shared trait between these two; they both know exactly what they’re doing.
Everything in this album is meticulously planned. Downtown? Hideously catchy pop anthem guaranteed to storm the charts and reinstate Mack & R Lewis as hip-hop renaissance icons. Dance Off? Similarly catchy with less of a bubblegum pop appeal, and more of a middle of the road Eminem feel, probably perfect for the white audience less comfortable with the addressing of prominent black issues due again to white privilege. Sam Smith would love it.
Most interestingly, however, is Kevin. Shoved thoughtlessly into the middle of the album, but undoubtedly the most stand out track of the record, Kevin is a motown-esque ballad about death, addiction and recovery, driven by Leon Bridges’ haunting vocals. It’s almost a precursor to the album’s final nine minute think-piece White Privilege II, just as Downtown has been dubbed a second installation of Thrift Shop.
Musically the album is brilliantly varied, and for that you can thank Ryan Lewis, the ever forgotten sidekick of the duo. The piano parts he provides are almost as important to their unique sound as Macklemore’s vocal tone, and without his production they would be absolutely nothing. A true testament to his talent as a producer is their success despite being on their own independent label.
So here’s my two cents – Macklemore is not the problem. He’s a man using his commercial platform to speak about what he believes in and endorses, which is ultimately equality. The people perpetuating the idea that Macklemore is the problem instead of focusing on the issues he’s addressing, are the problem.
Watch/Listen to Kevin below: