Hip-Hop Activist Harry Allen Responds To Macklemore And Hot 97’s ‘Great Race Debate’ In Rap

Managing Hip-Hop Editor
01.01.15 66 Comments

Harry Allen, best known as “Media Assassin” referenced by Public Enemy’s music, spent his New Year’s Eve entering the current discourse revolving around White people’s role in rap.

The activist and author focused his talking points around Macklemore’s recent radio conversation with Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg and Old Man Ebro. For those who haven’t watched, the group spoke candidly about Mack’s race affording him mainstream success, cultural appropriation and a host of topics. Allen offers both praise and criticism for the participants for putting the discussion of Hip-Hop and race on a large platform but failing to dig deeper into the prevailing issues.

Allen offers his reaction to their conversation, offering up that “‘White privilege’ is a nice way of saying White Supremacy,” touching on “‘dope white rapper’ defense” and other points. My only qualm is that Twitter simply isn’t the best platform for his talking points. Many of his 140-character messages feel like they require more to be said than the medium allows. Still, he says enough that anyone in tune with recent race-rap conversations can follow the points he’s attempting to make.

To a degree, it’s very hard to say who’s technically right and wrong at this point. Allen’s words of wisdom carry weight as do the series of tweets Q-Tip released a few weeks ago. So much of the talk has centered around White artists like Iggy Azalea and Macklemore and constant criticisms leveled at them by the likes of Azealia Banks, Lord Jamar, and more. But as Allen notes, those artists aren’t necessarily the culprits. At this point, Iggy and Macklemore, while they may be part of issue, aren’t the ones who should be shouldering the burden.

In the big scheme of things, they’re chess pieces, maybe bishops or rooks I suppose, in a larger game. The kings and queens of said game are the executives in suits, sitting back in offices and making the decisions and deals. They’re the ones, the key cogs in the “robust system” Allen refers to, deciding who’ll be cultivated into a star courtesy of radio, figuring out how the slices of the pie will be distributed and, ultimately, the way rap will sound on a mainstream level. An artist like Iggy generally has the same limited amount of say in her career as her antagonist Banks. The same “old White guys” at Universal that Azealia railed against until they dropped her have counterparts at every major label that comes to mind.

So while everyone is focused on the artists, nobody’s watching the far more superior pieces quietly moving around the board working their agenda. And until those guys are brought directly into the conversation, the monumental changes the community wants to see happen won’t take place anytime soon.

Read Harry Allen’s full set of tweets below.

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