all 21 comments

[–]arjun10 [score hidden] ago

Yeah, I more or less agree with you. What's interesting is that if you browse /r/hiphopheads, you'll find a very similar mentality toward Macklemore--that he's a mediocre artist (but a good businessman) whose fan-base is rather racist and elitist, and don't really understand rap and hip-hop.

I do want to point out that Macklemore himself seems very aware about the racial dimensions of his work, and if I recall correctly he outright said in an interview with Rolling Stone that he wouldn't have had the same kind of success if he wasn't White, and that his fan-base is rather disrespectful and ignorant of hip-hop culture and its historical development.

[–]tapedeckgh0st [score hidden] ago

Honestly, I actually like a lot of his music, and I appreciate how self-aware he his of his own privilege. He's also a really great live performer.

I wouldn't expect fans of a mainstream white hip hop artist to not have an utterly naive idea of social justice and air of hypocrisy, however. It certainly is disappointing. Then again, I've never bothered comparing him to the likes of Mos Def or Jay Z. He's a pop artist.

[–]murdahmamurdah [score hidden] ago

He's a pop artist.

I think youre pushing that. He's a rapper. He raps. He brings KRIT and Talib Kweli on tour and gets Devin the Dude in his videos. He may be very popular, but I wouldn't try and take him out of the genre; thats a fight not worth fighting. He's just overwhelmingly popular outside of hip hop circles and championed among people who don't know much about hip hop, but that doesn't make him any less a rapper.

Is he a good rapper? Does he stack up to the greats? thats another conversation (lolno) but he's still an active and shitty participant in the genre.

[–]tapedeckgh0st [score hidden] ago

Alright. That's a fair assessment.

[–]Toka313 [score hidden] ago

Wait, a rapper who talks about "real" issues and is lyrically talented?

I remember that guy, he was Lupe Fiasco.

[–]thecompletegeek2 [score hidden] ago

nas, mos def, black thought, kanye, jay-z, common, andre 3000, big boi, chuck d, talib kweli, and yes, lil wayne (what else is 'georgia bush'?). many, many more. most rappers tackle social issues at some point, even if only for a couple of songs. and i would say all of the above are lyrically talented.

that said, yeah, when lupe tries, practically no-one can touch him for wordplay. and of course he is a lot more political in a lot more of his songs than most rappers are.

[–]Sappow [score hidden] ago

That thrift shop song has also increased the cost of thrift store merchandise by making it trendier, pricing out actual poor people; my friend who needs thrift shops to buy clothes hates the song for that reason

[–]soignees [score hidden] ago

The "vintage" trend in England has been going on a good 10 years now, and it's often cheaper to buy from Primark and the like then buy second hand clothing from charity shops. I'd say 5 years ago said charity shops upped their prices to match vintage shop ones.

I used to be a second-hand shopper too, then "vintage"happened.

[–]Does_Not_Fempute [score hidden] ago

I would have to agree with you. This has been happening for a while. When I was in high school in the US (10 years ago now or more...) the local Goodwill and Salvation Army were picking through their T-shirts and pricing up those "ironically cool" ones, shirts from the 70's & 80's, or any blouses, button downs, and pants that might look like it came from Urban Outfitters. My best friend at the time worked part time at Goodwill and would pick through bales of clothes to set aside the ones that us kids would like for the store manager to put on a higher priced rack. We lived in a small-ish city with no Urban Outfitters or similar places (I don't know if they even existed then) and they made a killing up-pricing the stuff they got for free.

[–]Socratone [score hidden] ago

yeah I think you hit the nail on the head. I don't like his music (or at least it isn't for me) and he seems to be a cool dude and generally respectful - talking about privilege, getting good rappers on his tour and giving respect to Lil Wayne (who gets the most racist caricatures applied to him by "not hip hop except Macklemore" types)....but...

can't help but feel that the moment that he had the spotlight on him was spent sneering at hip hop culture (or at least falling into the scholastic divide of "real hip hop" = stuff I like / "fake hip hop" = "distasteful" stuff about guns and drugs, etc) and appealing to the kind of people who know nothing about the artform or culture.

"buying gucci is tacky, shop at thrift stores". wow no shit sherlock, it's like white-indie 101. like OP said it's less appealing to do this when you've never owned an expensive piece of clothing in your life and shop second hand by default. also why shouldn't rappers wear fendi belts with loud prints? it's like an extension of the whole "if you want respect, don't sag your pants" thing.

[–]dreamleaking [score hidden] ago

There's a rap song by a white guy that I feel sums this up well:

[Verse 1]

I see so many people lost who really try to pretend

But am I just another white boy who has caught on to the trend

When I take a step to the mic is hip-hop closer to the end?

Cos when I go to shows the majority have white skin

They marketed the windmill, the air flair and head spin

And white rappers' albums really get the most spins

The face of hip-hop has changed a lot since Eminem

And if he's taking away black artists' profits, I look just like him

Claimed a culture that wasn't mine, the way of the American

Hip-hop is gentrified, and where will all the people live?

It's like the Central District, Beacon Hill to the South End

Being pushed farther away because of what white people did, now

Where's my place in a music that's been taken by my race

Culturally appropriated by the white face

And we don't want to admit that this is existing

So scared to acknowledge the benefits of our white privilege

Cos it's human nature to want to be part of something different

Especially when your ancestors are European Christians

And most whites don't want to acknowledge this is occurring

Cos we got the best deal, the music without the burden

Of being black in a system that really wants you to rock

Cause all you need is a program and you can go and make hiphop

And we hate the mainstream cause we're the ones that took it

Now we listen to Aesop Rock and wear t-shirts that say Brooklyn

But it's not about black and white, right?

I mean good music is good music regardless of what you look like

But when you don't give them props isn't that selfish?

That's like saying rock was actually started by Elvis

So where does this leave me?

I feel like I pay dues, but I'll always be a white MC

I give everything I have when I write a rhyme

But that doesn't change the fact that this culture's not mine


But I'm gonna be me, so please be who you are

This is something that's effortless and shouldn't be hard

I said I'm gonna be me, so please be who you are

But we still owe 'em 40 acres now we've stolen their 16 bars

Hip-hop started off on a block that I've never been to

To counteract a struggle that I've never even been through

If I think I understand just because I flow, too?

That means I'm not keeping it true, I'm not keeping it true

[Verse 2]

Now I don't rap about guns, so they label me conscious

But I don't rap about guns cause I wasn't forced into the projects

See I was put in the position where I could chose my options

Blessed with the privilege that my parents could send me to college

Now who's going to shows, the kids on the block starving?

Or the white people with dough that can relate to my content?

Marketed the music, now adapted to the lifestyle

What happened to jazz and rock and roll is happening right now

Where's my place in the music that's been taken by the media

With white corperations controlling what they're feedin' ya?

I brought up Aesop Rock, but I'm not even dissing, dude

We love hip-hop, and what do you think caucasians are listening to?

And I speak freely when I write this

If a black emcee examined race, there goes half their fan base, white kids

And this is so true

And we didn't even have to fight the system, we just went and picked up the microphone too

And we got good at it so we should be rapping

But only supporting them is like burning Jimi and buying Clapton

Now Clapton's incredible, but no Jimi, no foundation

So here comes history and the cultural appropriation

White kids with do-rags trying to practice their accents

From the suburbs to the upperclass, mastering a language

But hip-hop is not just memorizing words

It's rooted in authenticity, something you literally can't learn


But I'm gonna be me, so please be who you are

This is something that's effortless and shouldn't be hard

I said I'm gonna be me, so please be who you are

But as I'm blessed with the privilege, they're still left with the scars

Hip-hop started off on a block that I've never been to

To counteract a struggle that I've never even been through

If I think I understand just because I flow, too?

That means I'm not keeping it true, I'm not keeping it true X2

[–]thecompletegeek2 [score hidden] ago

so, by his own words, he's not keeping it true? :)

[–]murdahmamurdah [score hidden] ago

the whole song is still making it out like "those black fellas are doing something weird and i dont get it so im gonna do my white thing over here." duke is drawing the same lines in the song that he's trying to break down and it just sounds undeveloped.

And white rappers' albums really get the most spins

so him, eminem and....vanilla ice? the beasite boys? who was the last great white hope that was on the radio?

Now I don't rap about guns, so they label me conscious

But I don't rap about guns cause I wasn't forced into the projects

so if youre from the projects you need to rap about guns? there are TONS of rappers from the projects who don't "rap about guns". Even then, thats called "life in the projects". theres fucking guns everywhere. youre not some special snowflake because you dont rap about guns.

If a black emcee examined race, there goes half their fan base,

because talking about race on a track definitely has an effect on sales

plus, in a genre rooted in clever lyricism and word play, this is as subtle as a curb stomp.

the whole thing WREAKS of arrogance and white guilt. "oh im so sad because i get that white people like me are evil but i know better!" - then still allows the ny times to call him a "post black rap star" and all the other crazy d piece riding that comes out about him.

[–]TranceGemini [score hidden] ago

This seems pretty fucking unnecessary. Anyone can talk a good game. Macklemore is being appropriative by writing this. Alanis has nothing on him for irony!

[–]jillsleftnipple [score hidden] ago

I'm not a fan of his but I have to admit that he's a great live entertainer.

[–]DJSweetChrisBell [score hidden] ago

I believe you are building a straw man argument here. You are stating the beliefs of others and then arguing against those beliefs. Sure, there may be some people that feel the way you have stated, but are those feelings based on Macklemore, or is it just their own racism?

You are making a pretty wide generalization that "Upper class white fans dismiss black artists".

Personally I like Macklemore because his music is fun to listen to and he sings about Seattle (my home town). However, when I moved here from Michigan 10 years ago, I listened to SWASS on repeat for the entire drive out here. I am more than excited that there is a rumor that Sir Mix-A-Lot is going to be performing at the Seattle Macklemore shows this week.

Yes, I agree with you that racist assholes exist and some of them like Macklemore. That said, I can't agree with any generalization of his greater fan base or that Macklemore in anyway is responsible for this.

[–]mangopuddi [score hidden] ago

I wonder if because white rappers who manage to gain mainstream success in the rap music industry are so few and far between it's easy to look on them as some kind of revolution/evolution. That they're not as shackled by the overarching history of rap as a genre, and so when a white rap artist is socially conscious it's touted as progress rather than just an outlier.

[–]tacosock [score hidden] ago

Let's not forget the time when Macklemore blatantly ripped off Le1f, a black queer artist.

[–]soignees [score hidden] ago

Id say the wire fandom (such as it is) had this as well, which is interesting considering what the show it's about.

[–]badpersonlivingbadly [score hidden] ago

I often hear Macklemore fans touting him as the “next greatest rapper” or the counter-Lil’ Wayne, someone who is taking rap to new heights both technically and content-wise.

Do people seriously think that? No way people actually think that.

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