Macklemore wins a Grammy

So I said I don’t care about the Grammy’s and haven’t since back when I was just a teenager and heard that they had given the award for Best Heavy Metal band to some old fogey group called Jethro Tull.  But come on, Macklemore, best rap album?  In the year this was released:

People have been citing Drake’s album (haven’t heard it) and Yeezus (good but kind of hard to listen to) as also being better than The Heist.  Macklemore also was apparently in agreement, because he texted Kendrick Lamar, telling Kendrick he was actually the guy who deserved it.

There’s been a lot of poo thrown in Macklemore’s direction, some of it deserved, but I don’t quite agree with Slate:

Don’t Hate Macklemore Because He’s White

Hate him because his music is terrible.

It’s not terrible.  It’s just not that good.  Thrift Shop was catchy.  Like the Ceiling Can’t Hold Us was kind of catchy.  His rapping is OK.  Same Love seemed like a nice gesture, but it got old fast and I agree with the author’s point about that song-

Who does this dude think he is? The number of lazy elisions and smarmy misdirections buried in here are confounding. In what asinine, addled universe is “hip-hop” reducible to YouTube comments?

Not that you’ll hear about it from Macklemore but there are plenty of hip-hop artists who’ve spoken out against homophobia, plenty who’ve dropped words like faggot from their repertoire or never used them in the first place. There are plenty more who haven’t, but Macklemore doesn’t name them either, because doing that would actually be taking a stand. Still, it’s enough to make his audience believe that homophobia is something the rest of hip-hop does but he doesn’t, telling them what they think they already know. This is rap for people who don’t like rap that makes them feel proud of themselves for not liking rap, and for buying Macklemore albums, and as such it moves from bad music into immoral, bleached-out hucksterism, the undying legacies of Paul Whiteman and Pat Boone. At least the Stones and Zeppelin never claimed they were healing the blues as they were stealing from it.

OK, the last part is a bit much, and I’ll get back to that.  But I agree that using “Youtube comments” as an example of homophobia in hip-hop is dangerously close to a strawman.  Possibly the harshest thing that Jack Hamilton does in his piece is points out a perfect example of someone who uses faggot in a song.  Macklemore could very easily have called out this guy-

I say harsh, because there’s no way any rapper wants Eminem angry at him.  Especially not someone who is just trying to make it as a rapper and doesn’t have the chops to go up against one of the greats.  Listen to the song- would you want that guy to write a song about you?  Burying you under lines and lines of insults that you couldn’t hope to match?   Jack Hamilton is basically asking him to commit career suicide.  It would be brave though.

As far as the idea of stealing things- I think that’s crap.  Genres aren’t stolen.  Yes, if you write a song down on some paper before showing it to anyone, then I go to your house and steal that paper, then play the song for others and claim it was mine, then yes I stole it.  Or if you get tricked into selling the rights to your song, they were stolen.  If I like your music and I write a song in the same genre, I did not steal your music.  I’ll have to get to that another time though, because I’m worn out after practicing today.

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