Today, the musical artist Macklemore released a contentious new track titled "White Privilege II." Around the same time, another prominent white person, Speaker Paul Ryan, released something better: a livestream of the gently falling snow outside his...
Screengrab via YouTube
Is it merely a coincidence that the words Macklemore and Matt McGorry both have two M's and relatively similar numbers of syllables? If you have heard the former's most recent, much-discussed, and peculiarly named release, "White Privilege II," you might be equipped to answer that question.
I, however, am not equipped to answer that question, because I have not heard the new song released last night by the controversial white rapper and activist general Macklemore. Instead, I have spent all afternoon listening to the soundtrack to this livestream of the current blizzard in Washington, DC, hosted on YouTube by none other than Speaker Paul Ryan and chronicling the view from his window at the White House. Just you as might expect the soundtrack to a livestream of falling snow to be as soft and gentle as the subject of its feature, you might also expect a white person to not be a rapper. However, both Macklemore and Speaker Paul Ryan upend these assumptions: Macklemore subverts the public's idea of how a person should maintain a viable music career, and Speaker Paul Ryan has quirkily soundtracked, for the enjoyment of all America, the menacing Winter Storm Jonas with an instrumental nü disco dance track, on loop.
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In many ways, the snowstream soundtrack could be considered the antithesis of the new Macklemore song "White Privilege II." For one, the snowstream soundtrack has no lyrics, while I assume the new Macklemore song "White Privilege II" has many. For another, the snowstream and its accompanying soundtrack, while perhaps just as offbeat as Macklemore and his new song, will surely only bring joy to legions of listeners, while the opposite is true of Macklemore. "Here's something from Washington, DC, that won't make you want to throw your phone across the room," writes Speaker Paul Ryan to introduce the snowstream, with all the self-awareness Macklemore lacks; Speaker Paul Ryan does not even acknowledge the musical taste that went into his selection here, preferring instead for the artistry to speak for itself—something Macklemore, annoying cousin to Male Feminists everywhere, has not yet learned to do.
Since identity politics are inherent in any discussion of a song called "White Privilege II," I cannot in good conscience miss an opportunity to talk about myself here as well. Writing an article without doing any research and instead focusing on my own Twitter-baked notions of topics I don't really know about is itself a political act—not unlike those in which Macklemore engages in his new song "White Privilege II," or those in which Speaker Paul Ryan engages in literally every day. In the same way, the three of us are also, indeed, all white, as snow, and from this shared perspective I can understand the impulse to insert unnecessary opinions into one's industry. Just as Macklemore wants to be taken seriously as a rap artist and Paul Ryan tried to run for President, I too yearn for some acknowledgment of my efforts, even as I overlook the Speaker's virtual balcony into an abyss of whiteness, bopping along to the ineffable beats chosen by my lesser of two evils. The Winter Storm Jonas has received almost as much media attention as the new Macklemore song "White Privilege II," while I have received essentially none.
Until I publish this article, that is. There are some legitimate points to be made about the new Macklemore song "White Privilege II," of course, and many people have made them. My colleague, the esteemed Callie Beusman, for example, noted astutely that "making a rap about white privilege is something that someone in an entry-level women's studies course would do before changing majors after feeling microaggressed by their peers' mocking." Another colleague, Hanson O'Haver, from whom I stole the premise for this article, commented in Slack chats obtained by Broadly that "[Macklemore's] a real goober."
"Macklemore Sucks but at Least He's Fucking Trying What the Fuck Have You Done," he added later, referring to more music I have not heard. "It's from a Minor Threat song."
According to the Noisey review of the new Macklemore song "White Privilege II," of which I've read approximately one-eighth, a fraction that is larger than that of which I've heard of the new Macklemore song "White Privilege II," the new Macklemore song "White Privilege II" is the third single from the forthcoming album by Macklemore and his 11th grade math partner Ryan Lewis. According to Speaker Paul Ryan, the snowstream goes all weekend—as, I'm told, the new Macklemore song "White Privilege II" almost does.