The lyric in question reads: "You're Miley, you're Elvis, you're Iggy Azalea, fake and so plastic, you've heisted the magic" -- ostensibly referring to the ways that these artists have stolen or borrow non-white cultures for profit.
On Mack's website created for the song, the "rapper" goes into further detail about the creation of the controversial new track: "This song is the outcome of an ongoing dialogue with musicians, activists, and teachers within our community in Seattle and beyond. Their work and engagement was essential to the creative process."
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis went on to detail their charitable work for minority communities: "[W]e are committed to a long-term investment of our time, resources, finances and creative capacities towards supporting black-led organizing and anti-racist education & discourse.
"We are engaging with four initial organizations and collectives whose work inspires and informs us: Black Lives Matter, People's Institute for Survival and Beyond, Youth Undoing Institutional Racism & Freedom School (a project of AFSC and The People's Institute), and Black Youth Project 100.
In dialogue with our community partners and advisers, we will continue to find ways in which we can leverage our platform and network towards strengthening the work of organizers and initiatives framed by genuine racial and social equity. We recognize that there are no easy answers, any one piece of legislation, or quick fix to undo institutional racism in our country. We wish to support direct organizing and be led by the expertise and experience of those on the front lines as we proceed."
I'm going to keep it real here: it's certainly nice that this pair of silly white boys are reaching out with their vast quantities of money to help out minority organizations. But you don't get to collect accolades and awards for calling out whites for stealing black culture when your entire career is predicated on doing just that, nor do you get to congratulate yourself for being aware enough to recognizing this. Sure, all this community outreach means that the duo are at least thinking critically about issues of race and justice, but certainly not critically enough to realize that in most ways, they are just as guilty as Iggy and Miley.
At this point, Macklemore has more Grammy Awards than the influential rappers who inspired him. It's not hard to figure out what that says about race in terms of the critical reception and evaluation of contemporary music. Similarly, Macklemore has profited immensely from his pro-LGBT position despite gay artists calling him out:
This series of since-deleted tweets were written in August of 2013. Le1f has gone on to clarify his statement to Vogue, saying "I really don’t care about that conversation at all. I feel like the Internet pulled what I said into a new sphere ... It wasn’t me particularly trying to bring up privilege in a conversation ... to be honest I think there are things he does that are cool."
Despite Le1f's semi-retraction, his point remains salient. How can someone whose entire career is created on profiting from borrowing marginalized cultures even attempt to call out others for doing the same?
Besides, dude isn't even a very good rapper.
You can check out the new Macklemore track for yourself, below: