TIME Music

Macklemore Apologizes for Costume Deemed Anti-Semitic

The "Thrift Shop" rapper posted an apology to his website after stirring accusations of racial insensitivity for performing while dressed in a prosthetic nose, fake beard and black wig

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Not long after Macklemore donned a costume consisting of a dark wig, fake beard and a large prosthetic nose for a secret performance in Seattle on Friday, critics began accusing the rapper of anti-semitism.

The “Thrift Shop” rapper was a surprise guest at an exhibit opening at the Experience Music Project museum in his hometown, where guests had been invited to “dress as your favorite music icon or video character.” But for many who saw the pictures of the rapper performing, his costume of choice seemed intended to portray a stereotypical Jewish caricature — not a musical icon.

Macklemore initially issued a Twitter defense of his costume, claiming it was nothing other than “random”:

Yet as the images and story spread, Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, must have realized that he needed more than 140 characters to adequately address the situation, so he took to his blog on Monday night and posted a longer explanation of his costume:

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.

My intention was to dress up and surprise the people at the show with a random costume and nothing more. Thus, it was surprising and disappointing that the images of a disguise were sensationalized leading to the immediate assertion that my costume was anti-Semetic [sic]. 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.

He also — wisely — issued a blanket apology, writing: “I truly apologize to anybody that I may have offended.”

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