Talib Kweli joined a roundtable discussion on MSNBC’s The Cycle today (Mar. 1) where he discussed cultural appropriation in hip-hop as it pertains to black versus white artists, bringing into context Macklemore’s recent controversial Grammy win. Referring to time spent with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on tour as an opening act, as well as his 2005 song “White Privilege,” Kweli defended the rapper’s regretful sentiments toward his own victory. He even recalled Macklemore telling him, “I might win, and that’s going to be a problem.”
“Some people think that his text to Kendrick was corny, some people think his text to Kendrick was completely sincere,” Kweli told host Ari Melber. “But I see it as 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.”
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Discussing the general idea that Macklemore’s The Heist was not deserving of his Best Rap Album win, Kweli addressed the Grammys’ streak of appealing to white audiences.
“Anyone who’s shocked at the Grammys going to the most popular white rapper of the day, I got a bridge to sell you. The Grammys have been extremely consistent of appealing to mainstream — and another which word for that is white — America. And Macklemore & Ryan Lewis appealed to mainstream America way more than Kendrick Lamar’s. But it shows ignorance about hip-hop as a culture for the Grammys to make that decision so cluelessly.”
Watch Talib Kweli’s MSNBC appearance above.