So as it turns out, I was wrong. It isn’t just Kendrick Lamar fans that are clawing out their eyes over Macklemore’s Grammy wins Sunday night. It’s the entire hip-hop community. Literally everyone and their mothers are hating on Macklemore, claiming that King Kendrick deserved the accolades over the white MC’s “pop-rap” music. Personally, I find this whole thing to be absurd. Macklemore might not be hardcore or conventional, but he’s still a rapper—and a very good one at that. Back in 2012, he was featured in The Source magazine’s Unsigned Hype column—the very same column that once featured The Notorious B.I.G., Eminem, Mobb Deep, DMX, and Common, all before they became famous names in hip-hop. That same year, he was featured on the cover of XXL Magazine’s “Freshman Class” edition, which promotes up and coming rappers. And yet, even with these credentials, people still claim that his music is too “poppy” to belong in the genre. To that, I say this: if Can’t Hold Us and Thrift Shop is pop music, then so is Eminem’s Without Me and Real Slim Shady, Outkast’s Ms. Jackson and Hey Ya, and every Nelly song you’ve ever heard.
Oh, so Macklemore sucks because he made a track supporting same-sex marriage, while other rappers constantly toss around the word “faggot?” If that’s really the case, then well done, hip-hop fans. You’ve shown absolutely no progress in the 21st century. And have you even heard the rest of his album, or is that the only three songs you know? What about Neon Cathedral, where Macklemore talks about his substance addiction? Or Jimmy Iovine, where he raps about a fictional interaction he had with Interscope Records co-founder and producer Jimmy Iovine? Or 10,000 Hours, where he discusses all of the blood, sweat, and tears that he’s put into his music over the last decade? Macklemore has been rapping for a long time, working as an independent artist but striving to become something so much more—like being that musician on stage, holding out a Grammy. Yet here he is, being lampooned for victories he never chose but arguably earned. And because of that, this is what happened next:
With social media what it is today, there’s no doubt that Macklemore knows what hip-hop fans are saying. And so folding under the criticism, in an effort to protect himself and appease the community he worked so hard to be a part of, Macklemore texted an apology to Kendrick for “robbing” him of his Grammy’s. Not only that, but he also POSTED a screenshot of the one-sided conversation to Instagram.
Now, I don’t know whether to pity the guy or be angry with him. It would’ve been different if Kendrick were the one to make this text public. But no, Macklemore snapped a picture of a PRIVATE conversation and then posted it on social media. As if to tell hip-hop fans, “I hear you guys. I shouldn’t have won. Look, I apologized. Can you like me now?” It’s so pathetically soft. In the end, Kendrick is his opponent. It’s OK to respect the man but to apologize for beating him? Come on, Macklemore. You won the award! Just take your Grammy, pat yourself on the back, and head home. Should Richard Sherman apologize to Crabtree for his post-NFC Championship game rant? Should Leonardo DiCaprio or Matthew McConaughey apologize to the actors they beat at the Golden Globe Awards? Should Kendrick apologize to every MC he called out in his Control verse? One of the things I love about Kendrick, and Richard Sherman too, is that competitive spirit. That animalistic ferocity that makes these men willing to take on worthy challengers and fight to conquer them. And part of me thinks that after seeing this text, Kendrick just shook his head and laughed. Between Macklemore’s apology and the support he’s received since the Grammy’s, it’s clear that the real victor here is actually Kendrick Lamar.