Macklemore is a Seattle-based rapper who is changing the face of hip hop for the better. A prominent artist in the indie music scene, he is beginning to shake things up as he fights to correct the negative effect that rap music often has on young people.
After a long struggle with drug abuse and losing four friends to overdoses, he took a job at a local juvenile correction facility. There he worked to use rap as a form of therapy and self-expression in an effort to reach the younger generation. He is now four years sober and his personal triumph has allowed him to further develop his musical abilities. In 2008 he teamed up with producer Ryan Lewis, and the two of them gave life to the new album, The Heist.
The Heist deals with a wide variety of hot button issues, including marriage equality, consumerism, and substance abuse. The album was a surprise success, and Macklemore said in a recent interview that “I didn’t even know that we could sell out one.” Released on October 12, he has already made it to number one on iTunes and number two on the Billboard charts. More than 78,000 copies have been sold. While there is no doubt that this musician is genuinely talented, it’s the progressive message behind the lyrics that really sets him apart from other rappers.
“Same Love” is a ballad in support of Referendum 74, a bill to approve gay marriage in the state of Washington. The music video was released last week and already has 4.7 million views on YouTube. Through striking lyrics and a real emotional connection, he attempts to reverse the negative impact that rap music has had on the gay community. “If I was gay, I would think hip hop hated me,” says Macklemore. The video begins with the birth of a young boy, and then follows him through his journey of self-discovery and the obstacles he faces along the way.
At the end of the film you are left with the image of that same boy, now a man, dying of old age in the arms of his partner. The song even quotes Corinthians, repeating the infamous line “Love is patient, Love is kind,” as we see the newlyweds taking part in their “first dance.” This is a very refreshing message to hear from a hip hop artist who identifies himself as both straight and religious, especially one with such an impressive following.
“It’s a record I’ve wanted to write a long time, I tried writing it from the perspective of a gay bullied kid… I grew up in the Catholic Church, I grew up with two gay uncles and a gay godfather, and I grew up in the hip hop community. So the Catholic Church and hip hop community are known as being very homophobic communities in a lot of ways. I touched on it coming from that perspective, and also coming from the perspective of having gay people in my family and seeing examples of committed, beautiful relationships that have gone on for the last 20, 30 years. And also holding my community, the hip hop community, accountable for how we use language. We put down a group of people all the time and it gets the pass. That’s the one thing: It’s still cool to call people the f-word. It’s like the ultimate diss. There’s an evolution happening right now and I wanted to write a song that spoke to my experience and to our generation.”–Fuse TV