Why the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Grammy Win Ain't No Thang
Let's get one thing out of the way: Getting upset about absolutely anything to do with the Grammys is like finding yourself alarmed by the quality of the food at a Pizza Hut.
To expect an organization to do anything other than what it normally does, which is consistently miss the mark when determining the value of the releases in any given year -- like when Steely Dan's utterly superfluous Two Against Nature beat out Radiohead's career- and decade-defining Kid A -- well, that's madness.
With that said, the hoopla surrounding Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' The Heist snagging the Best Rap Album award from the far-more-deserving good kid, m.A.A.d city goes beyond the usual the-people-in-charge-of-the-Grammys-are-idiots complaint.
It's not only that Kendrick Lamar's good kid was the best album released in 2012. It's not only that good kid was in all likelihood one of the best rap albums released in the last ten years. And it's not only that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are two white dudes raking in enormous amounts of money in a genre largely performed by African-Americans. It's kind of all of these things together: a shit-storm of shortsightedness and ignorance of a genre about which the people in charge of the Grammys clearly have precious little to say.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not a Macklemore & Ryan Lewis hater. They seem like decent dudes (friends of mine have opened for them and had only very, very positive things to say) and their music, while I'm not spinning it regularly, won't inspire me to change the channel the way that a lot of other stuff as popular as The Heist would.
More to the point, though, Macklemore's positioned himself in such a way that he's engaging in a discussion about the Grammys' dubious selection. Sure, posting to Instagram a "personal" text that you sent to Kendrick Lamar smells a little like posturing, but we've no reason to doubt Macklemore's sincerity, no matter how public he's made that sincerity. (Think, though, how the conversation might be different had Lamar posted Macklemore's text instead of him doing it himself.)
It's strange, because I don't remember Eminem taking the heat in the same way, or apologizing in the way that Macklemore's had to. And before you say that The Heist isn't The Marshall Mathers LP, don't forget that Relapse has also taken home a Best Rap Album award the same year that Rick Ross' Teflon Don was released and no one's apologized yet for that.
With that said, Eminem's been a lot more forthright (and unapologetic) about his position: "I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley/To do black music so selfishly/And use it to get myself wealthy." Imagine Macklemore rocking a line like that.
I'd love to suggest that, like a bully who just won't stop, ignoring the Grammys will make them go away. But a Grammy remains -- mind-bogglingly, to this writer at least -- a mark of achievement that many artists still strive for. And it's one of the things that I love so much about hip-hop, one of the things it offers that other genres seem afraid to: the competition, the desire to be number one.
The best case scenario here, I suppose, is that people don't blame Macklemore too much for his win -- himself included -- and pick up good kid from hearing about it amidst the controversy.
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