I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch the Grammys. I don’t know if I ever have. But I was very pleased to hear about Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ success secondhand.
What surprised me though was the widespread negative reaction to their victory. Though even Macklemore thought that Kendrick Lamar should have taken home an award, he is easily my favorite mainstream rap artist and I would have thought he was more well-liked in my social network.
Unlike most contemporary rappers, Macklemore raps about big issues and things that matter–and I’m not just talking about Same Love. His songs wrestle with real life and not some fantasy of drugs, sex, and money that most people just don’t sustain.
Rather, he is against money defining you, he doesn’t degrade women, he values the arts, he’s anticonsumerisitc, he raps about race-related issues, and he speaks out against drugs and drug addiction. He’s not just rapping about some lie.
He’s a guy that raps about things that are true, and it is such a change of pace from what mainstream music will sell you.
Let me offer snippets of songs that make my point. Links to the songs themselves are included:
He speaks against money changing or defining you.
Make the money, don’t let the money make you
Change the game, don’t let the game change you
I’ll forever remain faithful
He doesn’t degrade women in his music.
The greatest trick that the devil ever pulled
Was convincing women that they looked
Better in their makeup
He recognizes the value in art and in hard work.
This is dedication
A life lived for art is never a life wasted…
You see I study art
The greats weren’t great because at birth they could
The greats were great cause they paint a lot
I will not be a statistic
Just let me be
No child left behind, that’s the american scheme
I make my living off of words
And do what I love for work
And got around 980 on my SATs
Take that system, what did you expect?
Generation of kids choosing love over a desk
Put those hours in and look at what you get
Nothing that you can hold, but everything that it is
In my favorite Macklemore song, he speaks a very anti-consumeristic message.
We want what we can’t have, commodity makes us want it
So expensive, damn, I just got to flaunt it
Got to show ’em, so exclusive, this that new sh-t
A hundred dollars for a pair of shoes I would never hoop in
Look at me, look at me, I’m a cool kid
I’m an individual, yea, but I’m part of a movement
My movement told me be a consumer and I consumed it
They told me to just do it, I listened to what that swoosh said
Look at what that swoosh did
See it consumed my thoughts
Are you stupid, don’t crease ’em, just leave ’em in that box
Strangled by these laces, laces I can barely talk
That’s my air bubble and I’m lost, if it pops
We are what we wear, we wear what we are
But see I look inside the mirror and think Phil Knight tricked us all
Will I stand for change, or stay in my box
These Nikes help me define me, but I’m trying to take mine, off
And in his most popular song he speaks an anti-consumeristic message in that you can look good and have fun for cheap rather than letting big business or brands manipulate you.
They be like “oh that’s gucci that’s hella tight”
I’m like “Yo! That’s fifty dollars for a t-shirt”
Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a t-shirt that’s just some ignorant b-tch
I call that getting swindled and pimped
I call that getting tricked by a business
That shirt’s hella dough
And havin the same one as six other people in this club is a hella don’t
Peep game come take a look through my telescope
Tryin’a get girls with my brand man you hella won’t
He speaks about issues in race.
I grew up during Reaganomics
When Ice T was out there runners killing cop sh-t
Or Rodney King was getting beat on
And they let off every single officer
And Los Angeles went and lost it
Now every month there is a new Rodney on Youtube
It’s just something our generation is used to
And neighbourhoods where you never see a news crew
Unless they’re gentrifying, white people don’t even cruise through
And my subconcious telling me stop it
This is an issue that you shouldn’t get involved in
Don’t even tweet, R.I.P Trayvon Martin
Don’t wanna be that white dude, million man marchin’
Fighting for our freedom that my people stole
Don’t wanna make all my white fans uncomfortable
But you don’t even have a f—in’ song for radio
Why you out here talkin race, tryin’ to save the f—in’ globe
Don’t get involved with the causes in mind
White priveledge, white guilt, at the same damn time
So we just party like it’s nineteen ninty nine
Celebrate the ignorance while these kids keep dying
And lastly, though this isn’t on The Heist, his song Otherside Wrestles with drug addiction.
I’ve seen oxycontin take three lives
I grew up with them, we used to chief dimes
I’ve seen cocaine bring out the demons inside
Cheatin’ and lyin’
Friendship cease, no peace in the mind
Stealin’ and takin’ anything to fix the pieces inside
Broken, hopeless, headed nowhere
Only motivation for what the dealer’s supplying
That rush, that drug, that dope
Those pills, that crumb, that roach
Thinkin’ I would never do that, not that drug
And growing up nobody ever does
Until your stuck,
Lookin’ in the mirror like I can’t believe what I’ve become
If he comes out with another album like The Heist, I might just tune in for the Grammys next year.