For those of you that have followed the blog over the past few years (and I'm thankful to each and every one), you know that Macklemore is one of the artists that I've supported wholeheartedly even before his dramatic rise. While I try to keep this blog balanced, with some helpful critique mixed in with praise, Ben Haggerty and producer/wunderkind Ryan Lewis are two artists about whom I don't possess even a resemblance of journalistic integrity. I'm too close, too invested in seeing this local group live up to their immense potential. And it's songs like one, the first from the duo's debut album The Heist (dropping in October), that keep me coming back:
"Same Love" is an example of Macklemore's superbly diverse talents as an artist. Far from confined to party anthems like "Irish Celebration," "And WE Danced," and "Can't Hold Us," Mack has that rare ability to also make bold, deep songs that question the way we think about hip hop culture and the world around us. Dating as far back as Language of My World's "White Privilege" to "Wing$" (which I still prefer spoken-word) to facing his own demons on "Otherside," Mack has always made the songs that speak to and question some of the unsavory aspects of the culture.
This latest effort is no different as Macklemore, backed by a beautifully sweet piano loop and Molly Lambert hook, questions the homophobia linked so often to the culture he loves so much. He starts us off dealing with his own insecurities and bringing the message closer to home:
'Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face,
She's like "Ben you've loved girls since before pre-K."
Macklemore doesn't write the song from the perspective of a beat-up gay teenager, (which he admits he originally tried to do). Instead, he writes an honest song from his own perspective, worrying that "If I was gay, I'd think hip hop hates me/ Have you read the YouTube comments lately?" Mack comes to the conclusion that it's not entirely individuals fault, even for those who don't intend the word to be derisive to gay men and women, the cultural repetitiveness of the word ingrains its use. Rhymes Haggerty, "'Man, that's gay' gets dropped on the daily. We become so numb to what we're saying."
As individuals, we do not choose what culture we are born into, but we do choose whether or not to carry it on. Many do not do it consciously, but still tacitly consent. It is our choice whether we want to carry on the culture, but it is also our choice about which aspects we want to leave behind. With this pro-Referendum-74 track, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are clearly showing that you can love hip hop, yet be critical of it at the same time. In the end, it's a bold song with a beautiful message.
Peace, Love, & Equal Rights,