Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis : "Same Love"

Marriage equality is pretty much a topic you can guarantee has never made it into a hip hop record.  Unless the track itself is poking fun at gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, etc., you will rarely ever see a positive message behind such a controversial and important topic.  Personal opinion time...get over it Hollywood.

Record A&R's and marketing teams are always concerned with image, yet at the same time they're doing simply that; showing an image.

           image (v) : a reproduction or imitation of the form of a person or thing  

By the pure power of it's actual definition it shows you how fake it is.  Why would anything worth signing and paying money for suddenly be worthy of a complete transformation into what you think others will like.  Isn't that counter-intuitive to the process of finding true talent and developing this talent into a true artist?

In main stream hip hop, talent is inevitably overlooked in order to sell records.  If you talk about "faggots," "gays," and "lesbians," that doesn't matter to the execs.  The tough image will sell, the records will sell, you'll have your own subsidiary record label from the one that signed you, and you'll be an absolute millionaire.  Sure, this can be considered a rash generalization, however it's a consistent timeline. 

To voice your own opinion on a topic through the medium of music is actually the whole point of music.  Good or bad, it's why music exists.  A question for you all though, why is hip hop music the ONLY genre that bashes homosexuality.  We don't see it in rock n' roll.  Ever heard of Freddie Mercury?  Look at the hair bands in the 80's.  They dressed like women and wore makeup, yet they had some of the most "manly" fans in the business.  I mean c'mon, the bassist from Styx was gay! Judas Priest, one of the heaviest bands of the rock era, had a gay lead singer.  In today's popular rock music, bands like Coldplay and 30 Seconds to Mars draw huge numbers from the gay community.  Singer / Songwriters like Rufus Wainwright thrive off of their "outing."  The gay community and straight community alike flock to Rufus' shows and he's a fully out, 100% proud, openly speaking homosexual.  Jeff Buckley, although straight, STILL draws huge crowds to his music both online and through retail sales and he passed away 14 years ago.  Why is hip hop different?  

Good news folks, it isn't any different now....thanks to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.  I've been a fan of Macklemore for a bit now, from around 2003 when I worked in the business.  At the time he was a 20 year old hip hop artist and had an EP out called "Open Your Eyes."  I had a huge passion for northwest US hip hop since I was managing Braille at the time, so naturally I would hear other Portland, OR artists and some Seattle, WA artists as well.  Macklemore was one of these Seattle guys who just had this swagger about him.  From his delivery to his look, he didn't need an "image."  The image was his soul and what he chose to discuss was his word, which was never faked. 

He released another EP in the mid 2000's after a battle with sobriety (he won) and fast forward to today.  "The Heist" is a record you need in your collection.  If you like music, you'll like "The Heist," even you mom and dad.  Springsteen and Neil Diamond can wait, throw this on.  Ryan Lewis, instrumentalist and producer extraordinaire is behind the beats and they resonate.  Pure talent, pure drive, and instrumentation that would make Kanye and Timbaland nod their head to his compositional prowess.  Listen to track 5, "Same Love" and you'll know what this is all about.  Mary Lambert lends her beautiful falsetto to the hook and it's chill binding.

"The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing god, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And god loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don’t know"

Nice work Macklemore.  Props to you for taking a genre notorious for slander, hatred, and cultural regression and for giving it relevance.  Did you really just write a song praising and promoting marriage equality?  This. Actually. Happened? I'm sick of hip hop artists saying that art is really just another form of poetry; that it's an outlet to speak in prose about your life and struggles.  In the case of these artists, I can't imagine they're very happy individuals outside the size of their savings accounts.  Macklemore shows what it's like to use a medium to your benefit and to distribute a message that we can not only nod our heads and feet in rhythm too, but also in agreement too.

Check out the below from Ellen, further proof on how truly large this is in the world of music.  Ellen knows her artists and even has her own label. She pointed out that Macklemore was top on iTunes a few weeks ago and took immediate notice to the power of his message.  This is why I love music.

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