Before Hip-Hop hit the mainstream and before it manifested into a sub-genre of “Hipster Rap,” invisible people (of color) often used rap as an outlet of expression, and an essential resistance against invisibility, systemic depravity and violence. All you needed was a pen, pad, and your voice to become liberated and have people hear that inner transformation. Today, you are “ghetto” if that’s all you use. Forget that, today you need a camera crew, an expensive outfit, access to a computer, and an original music video with an “original” setting, and light skin.
The new artists who are shining are doing so on a white screen where they can smoothly slip into the hearts of white people who probably weren’t even fans of hip hop to begin with. They are praised for songs that have already been made, yet initially to a deaf audience.
The other day, I was bored and Youtube-ed “white privilege.” I found some interesting docu clips, but an even more interesting find. Macklemore, a rapper I’ve never heard about, uploaded a song titled “white privilege.” It had tens of thousands of hits; I took a listen. It was a white boy redeeming himself for rapping and for what his ancestors committed against POC. But what has he got to rap about that is troubles him inside? How is his voice being suppressed and who isn’t listening? Why and how is he one of the most well-known MCs on the charts? What else- besides his lyrics and flow- has contributed to his success?
Although he is a white MC, he’s done his research- his lyrics hold true and they’re delivered with some serious ovaries. However, Macklemore shouldn’t be praised for his song. Yes, he had the consideration to rap about something that needs to be brought up, but he is not a hero for doing so. Some may think of his move as a sign of genius, ingenuity, and fearlessness. He’s just a white guy with a Mic and that’s why he’s famous. What if a Black MC featured a song titled “White Privilege?” Surely this would be more controversial and would be counteracted with responses like, “Stop complaining; the Civil Rights Movement is over; that’s reverse racism; that title is unoriginal; OK, we get it, why the hate?”