Macklemore Denies He Was Mocking Jewish Stereotypes With Tour Costume, Says He Was “Misunderstood”

Macklemore performs at EMP Museum on May 16, 2014 in Seattle
Macklemore is under fire for a recent tour costume, which some saw as a collection of offensive Jewish stereotypes Suzi Pratt/FilmMagic

UPDATE: After the controversy took off, Macklemore released a statement on his official website. It read:

“Family, friends and fans alike who know me well, know that I’m absolutely not the person described in certain headlines today. There is no worse feeling than being misunderstood, especially when people are hurt or offended… I thought it would be fun to dress up in a disguise and go incognito to the event, so that I could walk around unnoticed and surprise the crowd with a short performance. I picked up a bunch of fake mustaches and beards and grabbed a left over wig from our recent trip to Japan… As it turns out the fake noses they sell at the costume store are usually big (my nose didn’t fit most of them). So I ended up with a big witch nose. I went with a black beard, because that’s the furthest color from my natural hair. Disguise was the intention. I personally thought I looked very ambiguous in terms of any “type” of person. Some people there thought I looked like Ringo, some Abe Lincoln. If anything I thought I looked like Humpty Hump with a bowl cut.”

“I’ve always loved dressing up and have been doing so my entire career,” Macklemore continued. “The character I dressed up as on Friday had no intended cultural identity or background. I wasn’t attempting to mimic any culture, nor resemble one. A ‘Jewish stereotype’ never crossed my mind… it was surprising and disappointing that the images of a disguise were sensationalized leading to the immediate assertion that my costume was anti-Semetic. I acknowledge how the costume could, within a context of stereotyping, be ascribed to a Jewish caricature. I am here to say that it was absolutely not my intention, and unfortunately at the time I did not foresee the costume to be viewed in such regard. I’m saddened that this story, or any of my choices, would lead to any form of negativity.”

“I will let my body of work and the causes for which I’ve supported speak for themselves,” the rapper stated. “I hope that anyone who may question my intent take a few moments to discover the human and artist that I strive to be. I respect all cultures and all people. I would never intentionally put down anybody for the fabric that makes them who they are. I love human beings, love originality, and… happen to love a weird outfit from time to time. I truly apologize to anybody that I may have offended. I hope this better explains the situation and my point of view.”

While Macklemore and his recording partner Ryan Lewis have been in the headlines for the costume controversy, Lewis and his mother also recently sat down with Anderson Cooper to discuss their work with the 30/30 Project. Lewis’ mother, Julie Lewis, is HIV-positive and founded the project to help those suffering with HIV and AIDS.

The original story continues below.

Macklemore may want to head back to the thrift shop for some new duds. On Friday, May 16, the “Same Love” rapper ignited controversy when he took the stage for a secret show in his hometown of Seattle wearing a costume that many saw as a collection of offensive Jewish stereotypes.

During his set with longtime producing partner Ryan Lewis at the event—the opening of the “Spectacle: The Music Video” exhibit at Seattle’s EMP Museum—Macklemore wore a wig, a fake beard, and a prosthetic nose. Afterward, some people took to Twitter to question the disguise, which was described by the Daily Dot as “some kind of Jewish caricature, prosthetic schnozz included.” 

A costumed Macklemore performs at the opening night of “Spectacle: The Music Video” exhibition at EMP Museum on May 16, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. Suzi Pratt/FilmMagic

“Want to lose your faith in humanity?” tweeter @jaythenerdkid wrote. “Macklemore wore a jewish stereotype costume to a concert.”

“In Macklemore’s defense, if someone asked him what a ‘stereotype’ is, ‘he’d likely say: ‘Sony,'” humor columnist Rex Huppke quipped. 

Even actor Seth Rogen (who is Jewish himself) weighed in, tweeting, “@macklemore, first you trick people into thinking you’re a rapper, now you trick them into thinking you’re Jewish?” He also retweeted a post by rapper Jensen Karp: “What makes Macklemore’s anti-Semitic costume even crazier is that his biggest song is about saving money.” 

Macklemore later responded to the controversy on Sunday, May 18, writing simply, “A fake witches nose, wig, and beard = random costume. Not my idea of a stereotype of anybody.”

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