Rap is rhythm-assisted poetry. Rap is a representation of what’s going on in one’s mind and in one’s life. Rap is a craft, an art form that people find solace in because they can relate to the experiences expressed in verses. Many who have gone through tough times have articulated rap as something that was always there for them. It was something they could always count on and fall back on, it served as a form of inspiration and condolence; they did not face these tribulations alone.
The flack Macklemore has been receiving from the media as of late is confusing. Ever since the independent Seattle rapper hit the mainstream, all of his actions have been scrutinized; as a result, there have been countless articles condemning this artist as a privileged, insincere charlatan who uses progressive topics to sell records. Instead of focusing on the negative, critics should applaud or at least acknowledge this artist for attempting to bring positive change.
It is evident that Macklemore has skill. His flow and deployment of his impressive lexicon in his rap skeletons are inspiring. If one listens to “Welcome to the Culture” on his “Open Your Eyes” EP, it is apparent that his proficiency in spitting was advanced, even at age 17 when he recorded the track. The rapid-fire succession of his striking vocabulary to critique the music industry is impressive, especially considering his age.
By no means is he the best rapper; he is not in that conversation yet. However, skill-wise and content-wise he is a force to be reckoned with. Those factors added to the fact that he made it big independently calls for recognition and respect.
Spreading the love should be seen as encouraging – when did it become popular to criticize someone going against hate? Acts of kindness, like Macklemore’s music, that serve to balance the negativity in the news should be met with open arms.
In addition to bringing about positive change, Macklemore is representing the genre in the mainstream well. While hip-hop culture is teeming with skilled lyricists and masters of flow, mainstream rap is not always pretty. The genre, in the public eye, has garnered the reputation of being misogynistic, materialistic and shallow. The success of songs like Lil Wayne’s “Love Me,” with lyrics like, “And all she eat is d**k, she’s on that straight diet,” give support to these assumptions.
“Love Me” makes Macklemore’s pop hits sound like artistic masterpieces. Having an independent rapper break through to the public with uplifting songs is a refreshing break from the monotonous sounds that dominated the airwaves–to say the least.
More so than other genres of music, rap has always had a big storytelling element to it, as rappers are prone to recount the hardships that they experienced. The retellings serve as an assurance that it can get better in the future. For instance, Macklemore’s public announcements and songs concerning his alcohol and Oxycontin abuse paint a grim picture of addiction and inspires hope in recovery.
This independent rapper is one of the many artists that had a profound effect on the perseverance of many. Before we pass harsh judgment, let’s all ask ourselves: Do we really need to be contrarians condemning this rapper with such seemingly good intentions?
Earl Park is an undeclared sophomore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @WklyEPark.