Macklemore and Ryan Lewis released their new single, “White Privilege II” on Thursday night as a free download. The nearly nine-minute track — a sequel to Macklemore’s 2005 song “White Privilege” — features Chicago-based singer and poet Jamila Woods.
The song is the latest sampling from the pair’s forthcoming self-released album This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, due out February 26. In a note that accompanied the track, the pair wrote, “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.”
On “White Privilege II,” the Bonnaroo-bound Macklemore raps about feeling “awkward” at a Black Lives Matter protest, struggling to figure out the best way to be an ally to the movement and grappling with the consequences of being a commercially-success white man in rap.
“My success is the product of the same system that let off Darren Wilson guilty,” he says, referring to the police officer who a grand jury declined to prosecute for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Later on the track, Macklemore raps, “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.”
Woods, whose voice listeners might recognize from the song “Sunday Candy” by Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment, recently signed a deal with Closed Sessions. Her first single, “blk girl soldier,” was released earlier this week. In addition to Woods and themselves, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis list 18 musical collaborators and 20 community members in the song credits for “White Privilege II.”