There seems to be no winning for Macklemore

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It seems popular to hate on Macklemore these days, despite his popularity just a few short years ago.

The other day, I read a BuzzFeed in-depth about Macklemore showing his white privilege through his new music.

Now, I’m usually actually quite fond of BuzzFeed in-depths. They usually show very personal stories of regular people or offer new looks into the psychology and sociology of celebrities. This one, however, rubbed me the wrong way.

The author of this article argued that, by no longer rapping about minority issues, Macklemore’s showing how he can just walk away from these problems instead of having to face them like the minorities he’s been rapping about.

The author also argued that what Macklemore was doing in the first place, rapping about minority issues, was also problematic.

So, as you can plainly see, Macklemore can’t win in this author’s mind at all.

There’s so much to unpack with this argument, but I’m going to focus on what I know – allyship.

And that’s exactly what Macklemore was doing too.

We all have the things that hold us down, but Macklemore seems like a poster-child for privilege on the outside. Born in Seattle, he’s an educated, cis, white, straight male.

The difference between him and someone like Trump, for example, is that Macklemore recognizes his power and was attempting to use it to create more acceptance.

He’s condemned for being an ally, then he’s condemned for listening to and acting upon what people have said about his allyship.

He was being an ally, not attempting to speak over the minorities, but to draw attention to what they have to say using his position of power.

Look at “Same Love,” for example. He was sharing his own experience with LGBTQ+ issues, not trying to speak for the group. He was speaking to other straight people who may not understand what’s going on within the community.

In short, he was using his privilege to talk to other people with privilege.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing, as privileged people? I’ve always been taught that I’m supposed to direct attention to these issues to my peers who may otherwise not be listening.

But in Macklemore’s position, this doesn’t seem to be popular or even acceptable.

It’s not that his demographic has gone away. There’s plenty of “woke” white, young people who are willing to listen to minority issues if we recognize when they are brought into our everyday lives.

Macklemore’s fan base, to break it down to the basics, is pretty well represented at Laurier. There’s no denying that our school is pretty white, and we’re the right age demographic. Most of us fall into the right tax bracket too.

So why did Macklemore stop?

The BuzzFeed article quoted Macklemore answering this very question. He said that he was stopping because he was preaching to the choir.

His audience are the people who already know that life is harder for people because of systematic inequality. They know that minorities deserve to be listened to, which makes Macklemore’s old music redundant.

So is the change showing his white privilege? Was his old music problematic? It depends how you look at it, but I don’t think so.

I think he’s recognizing his place and his fans.

He’s condemned for being an ally, then he’s condemned for listening to and acting upon what people have said about his allyship.

There’s no one right way to be an ally, but I’m certainly going to miss Macklemore’s approach –but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand why he’s chosen this new path either.

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