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Macklemore Takes Aim at Miley Cyrus in 'White Privilege II'


The pansexual singer is called out in one of the song's verses about cultural appropriation.


Miley Cyrus is being called out for "White Privilege II."

The pansexual singer is the first artist to be mentioned by name in a new hip-hop song by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, a far-ranging commentary on race, intersectionality, police brutality, and cultural appropriation.

In the second verse, the song references white artists across time who have been influenced or have borrowed from African-American culture: "You've exploited and stolen the music, the moment, the magic, the passion, the fashion, you toy with. The culture was never yours to make better."

"You're Miley, you're Elvis, you're Iggy Azalea, fake and so plastic," the song continued, ordering the "We Can't Stop" singer before even the King of Rock and Roll. "You've heisted the magic. You've taken the drums and the accent you rapped in. You're branded hip-hop, it's so fascist and backwards. That Grandmaster Flash'd go slap it, you bastard. All the money that you made. All the watered-down, pop-bullshit version of the culture, pal."

This is not the first time Cyrus has been accused of cultural appropriation. The "Wrecking Ball" singer created a media firestorm in 2013 for twerking at the MTV Video Music Awards, a move inspired by African dance forms that had gained popularity in hip-hop music.

At the 2015 MTV awards ceremony, which she hosted, Cyrus also became a target of criticism for wearing her hair in blonde dreadlocks and for comments made about singer Nicki Minaj. After being snubbed for a Video of the Year nomination, the "Anaconda" singer had taken to Twitter, stating, "If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year." In response, Cyrus had told The New York Times, "You made it about you."

"The fact that you feel upset about me speaking on something that affects black women makes me feel like you have some big balls," Minaj said after the awards show. "You're in videos with black men, and you're bringing out black women on your stages, but you don't want to know how black women feel about something that's so important? Come on, you can't want the good without the bad."

Cyrus has not yet commented on Macklemore's lyrics. However, Iggy Azalea, the third artist mentioned in "White Privilege II," stated on Twitter, "he shouldn't have spent the last 3 yrs having friendly convos and taking pictures together if those were his feelings."

Previously, Macklemore tackled political issues in "Same Love," a song featuring out singer Mary Lambert that addressed homophobia. In "White Privilege II," which runs nearly nine minutes, he also sends a direct message to his audience on how issues like racism and white privilege can be addressed.

"The best thing white people can do is talk to each other, having those very difficult, very painful conversations with your parents, with your family members," the song stated. "I think one of the critical questions for white people in this society is, 'What are you willing to risk? What are you willing to sacrifice to create a more just society?'"

Despite past controveries, Cyrus is no slouch when it comes to activism. She was named to The Advocate's 2015 list of 40 Under 40 for using her celebrity to advocate for queer people, animal rights, and the homeless.

"We have been given this megaphone," Cyrus said of herself and fellow celebrities at a recent Los Angeles LGBT Center event. "And it is our responsibility as human beings to do everything we can to protect our fellow people, environment, and we cannot forget about the animals."

Listen to "White Privilege II" below.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.