Macklemore Attributes His Music Success to Race

"Thrift Store" rapper says he wouldn't be as big a star if he were Black.

Posted: 08/21/2013 01:13 PM EDT
Macklemore

Race is a factor in why Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are ruling the hip hop game right now, so says one member of the music duo. In the last year or so, the Seattle-bred performers have just about taken over the charts and in a Rolling Stone cover story Macklemore (aka Ben Haggerty) addressed racism in music and taking "accountability" as a white artist in a genre mostly ruled by black rappers. 

"You have to acknowledge where the art came from, where it is today, how you’re benefiting from it," he explained. "At the very least, just bringing up those points and acknowledging that, yes, I understand my privilege, I understand how it works for me in society, and how it works for me in 2013 with the success that (our album) The Heist has had."

Of course the goal is to make "great albums," but Macklemore feels fame isn't as sporadic as it seems. "I do think a song like ‘Thrift Shop’ was safe enough for the kids," he continued. "It was like, ‘This is music that my mom likes and that I can like as a teenager,’ and even though I’m cussing my a-- off in the song, the fact that I’m a white guy, parents feel safe. They let their six-year-olds listen to it. I mean it’s just…it’s different. And would that success have been the same if I would have been a black dude? I think the answer is no."

Macklemore previously discussed prejudice in "White Privlege," and he isn't the only rapper talking race relations these days. J. Cole wrestled with the issue via his "Crooked Smile" rhyme, "if my skin pale, would I then sell like Eminem or Adele?" But regardless of race, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' sales appeal can't be discounted. "Thrift Shop" went double-platinum and topped Billboard's Hot 100, as did their second single, "Can't Hold Us." Similarly, The Heist debuted at No. 2 on the album charts last October.

     

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(Photo: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for BET)

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