Rhetoric of Hip-Hop Blog – Friday, April 25

Blogging assignment, due Friday (April 25), 5pm:

  • Construct a rebuttal that will help you argue your point in your final project. In order to do so you will want to:
  • Identify a legitimate argument your opposition might deliver (not a straw man argument)
  • Decide whether to refute (“you’re wrong because…”) or counter-argue (“you’re right, but… “) it
  • Think about how your rebuttal will work for your ethos (e.g. do you want to be perceived as tough, no-nonsense, as caring and understanding, as someone who will stick to her guns, as someone who strives for compromises that all parties can live with, etc.)
  • In the post, briefly introduce the argument you want to rebut, and then explain how you would go about your rebuttal in your medium of choice in the final project

Writing for Salon, Brittney Cooper denounced the way that Macklemore handled his Grammy wins over Kendrick Lamar. She wrote, “Macklemore on his best day can barely hold a candle to Kendrick on his worse day. Even Macklemore acknowledged that he “robbed Kendrick,” via a text message that he then sent out screenshots of via social media. However, Macklemore claimed that fear prevented him from taking a courageous stance and saying exactly that when he went up to accept his award. But Kendrick Lamar can’t do anything with a private apology, Macklemore. Far too often, allies refuse to speak up in public while asking for absolution via private confessions. Macklemore failed to use the white privilege that he has readily acknowledged to challenge this structure of power in a moment when the world was watching.”

In the article, titled “Macklemore’s useless apology: Grammys and the myth of meritocracy,” Cooper makes very strong arguments about the pervasiveness of white privilege throughout American culture and history, and how Macklemore has benefitted from that.

To be clear, I do agree that Macklemore could have done more to address his privilege. But, especially compared to most other beneficiaries of white privilege, Macklemore has done a lot – although, of course, not enough – to address and raise awareness of race and privilege. He addressed that he “robbed” Kendrick (perhaps not in the most diplomatic way, but still), he’s addressed the gentrification of hip-hop, he’s addressed that The Heist was a great album but probably not deserving of the Grammy.

Yes, Cooper is right, Macklemore could have obviously done more to promote the issue. Yes, if Macklemore would have done more to raise awareness, it would’ve been praiseworthy. But I don’t think that Macklemore should be criticized for not speaking out at the Grammys.

Macklemore made the best album that he could (and it is a great album). He didn’t choose to be white, he didn’t choose to win multiple Grammys, he didn’t choose to “rob” Kendrick. As Talib Kweli said on MSNBC, Macklemore is “an artist who realizes his position in this culture and is doing everything in his power that he can do. He can’t not be white.”