Did Macklemore Win Because He’s White? [POLL/VIDEO]
Hip hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis came to play at last night’s Grammy Awards Show – and play they did – practically sweeping the hip hop category.
And there were certainly many detractors – some of the more vocal saying that the only reason the Seattle based rap duo won was because of their race.
Macklemore himself sent presumptive favorite Kendrick Lamar a note saying how sorry he was that he’d stolen awards that should have gone to the Compton based rapper.
But I wondered, upon seeing this being debated on CNN – were the awards being given to Macklemore based on his race – or on the theme of him music – primarily on the hit, “Same Love”, which deals with gay marriage.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis swept the rap categories during the untelevised portion of the Grammy Awards ceremony.
Their massive hit “Thrift Shop” took rap performance and song, and their debut, “The Heist,” nabbed the trophy for rap album over breakout Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar’s striking debut, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.”
The controversy was immediate. Their early wins sparked a trending topic on Twitter as outraged hip-hop purists and critics admonished voters for picking the pair’s work over albums from Drake, Kanye West, Jay Z and Lamar.
Following his bounty of wins, the rapper sent a text message to Lamar and later posted a screenshot of the message to his nearly 3 million Instagram followers.
“You got robbed. I wanted you to win. You should have,” he wrote. “It’s weird and sucks that I robbed you. I was gonna say that during the speech. Then the music started playing during my speech, and I froze. Anyway, you know what it is. Congrats on this year and your music. Appreciate you as an artist and as a friend. Much love.”
In a longer caption for the photo, Macklemore said Lamar “deserved best rap album.”
Some of the harshest criticisms of Macklemore have focused on his race, and the leg up that it may have given him over his black peers — think pieces are plastered all over the Internet — and he’s discussed the role his race may have played, once telling Rolling Stone that being white helped his success.
“We made a great album,” he said, “but I do think we have benefited from being white and the media grabbing on to something. A song like ‘Thrift Shop’ was safe enough for the kids. It was like, ‘This is music that my mom likes and that I can like as a teenager,’ and even though I’m cussing my … off in that song, the fact that I’m a white guy, parents feel safe. They let their 6-year-olds listen to it. I mean, it’s just … it’s different. And would that success have been the same if I would have been a black dude? I think the answer is ‘No.’ ”
Queen Latifah, who officiated at the vows of more than 30 straight and gay couples during Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ performance of “Same Love,” said their success should serve as a reflection of the longstanding social and cultural impact of hip-hop.
She said…. “When I started rapping, it was much more common for rappers to speak about things going on in the world … anything that was some type of social injustice, we’ve always been able to talk about through hip-hop.”
“I hope this is inspiration to the rappers and hip-hop artists out there that you can continue to tackle any subject you want. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are hugely successful … from making good music, No. 1, and No. 2, speaking about things that actually affect people. Or just talking about a thrift shop.”
While it’s been some time since I’ve followed what all goes on in the hip hop world, I couldn’t help but come away with the feeling that “Same Love” would be the engine that drove Macklemore to as many wins as he’s racked up.
Simple – it’s all about the theme – how current it is – and if you want to be completely cynical, also totally PC.
No doubt rapping about something as current as same sex marriage is going to win you plaudits – but do you feel Macklemore’s wins had more to do with his race than his music?