Why I Hate Macklemore Part 1: Just Another Elvis Presley

I think I’m the only person who’s not excited about Macklemore performing a concert, for free, at my university’s end of year celebration. I know I sound negative–and I totally mean to. This topic gets grating to a lot of people who like him, so if you’re the type of person who’s just going to think of why I’m wrong the whole time you read this I suggest shutting off your internal monologue. Or read on and get angry, that’ll make me just as happy.

Reason numero uno:

  1. Macklemore, like every other rapper, is making money.He just doesn’t verbalize it. Which is fine, a lot of people like rappers who don’t talk about how much ice/chains they got–this is the go-to reason for “why hip-hop sucks” for most ‘open-minded’ or ‘sensible’ music listeners. “There’s no meaning,” they say. “I like Macklemore because he raps about things that matter.”Okay, sure, I’ll give you that. He talks about gay marriage and anti-consumerism, and… stuff. He’s “socially-conscious”. “He raps about the issues.” “He’s deep, man.” He’s a rapper who cares, and he’s like the first to do it, I mean, right? Yeah! He’s totally the first to do it. Just like Yasiim (formerly Mos Def), Talib Kweli, Lauren Hill, Atmosphere, Common, Wyclef Jean, Grandmaster Flash, Nas, Melle Mel were the first to do it… wait. All these rappers are/were socially conscious rappers…

    Oh wait, you meant that he raps about easily accessible issues that most white people go through, repackages them through a lens that’s easy to relate to, then sells it to you for money, right? If that’s what you want from your music, fine. But I don’t go to church, and I sure as shit don’t listen to my music to have someone telling me what to think. I listen to my music to gain a new experience: I’d rather hear about the emotional breakdown of having a friend get shot and killed, or the struggle of growing up in strife, than be told “HEY GUYS you shouldn’t say ‘that’s gay’ on Youtube because it’s rude and hurts people’s feelings.”

    Hip-hop used to be all about explaining what’s going on “in the hood.” It was a reflection of a personal and social state of being–a report. Now it’s the natural evolution from that because with the growth of equality came the growth of black success. Hip-hop has moved on from talking about “trying to make it” and instead talking about “having made it”. It’s the natural response: why talk about a struggle if it’s faded away? This is the transition a lot of people who don’t listen to hip-hop miss–they think the ice-chains-cars-money-hoes topics are unprecedented. Is there still institutional racism? Certainly. Is there more reason for optimism than ever before? You bet your ass.

    Macklemore is doing the exact same thing as 70s and 80s rappers: he’s taking cultural snapshots of where we are, what we’re doing, and he’s vocalizing how he feels about it. THIS IS FINE. But what’s not fine is that he rides the ignorance of his fanbase, and doesn’t correct them because they tend to think “hes the first to talk about something that matters”. Every time some “socially conscious” musician gets big everyone acts like it’s never happened before. And the artists with even a shred of decency make sure to acknowledge where they came from. But now Macklemore doesn’t bring up his influences, now he doesn’t do shoutouts,  nowhe doesn’t do anything to acknowledge where he came from or the culture he’s pilfered. He’s paid that homage before and I don’t understand why he isn’t doing it now that he’s popular.

    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.

    From The Language of My World (2005).

    More of THIS. This would be fine.
    But now that he’s gone pop this message isn’t important anymore. He took and ran with the “conscious” label and ditched that shit from 8 years ago.

    “Oh if they’re real fans they’ll go through my music and find all that old shit where I used to say that stuff.” Bullshit. Real rappers never stop giving shoutouts to their heroes. Real rappers always remember that without their past they wouldn’t be here.

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2 thoughts on “Why I Hate Macklemore Part 1: Just Another Elvis Presley

  1. You’re a moron.. there is no such thing as “just another Elvis.” You should have said just another Eminem. Elvis is the standard in music, he was an innovator and the greatest entertainer this world has ever seen. If you’re implying that Elvis was a white singer singing black music than you’re just as ignorant as everyone else who doesn’t know Elvis. Elvis at the start of his career covered songs by white and black singers before him turning country music into RnB and RnB into country music at his liking (ex. That’s Alright Mama, Blue Moon of Kentucky). But it’s so “in” to say “white man stole our music” instead of owning up to the fact that Elvis’ interpretations of songs were ten times better than any of the original songs. Elvis’ biggest hit “It’s Now or Never” was an Italian song “O Sole Mio” but you don’t see Italians claiming Elvis “stole our music.” Elvis was from the poor region of Memphis, the heart of the blues, he had more reason to sing blues songs than any black singer from New York, LA, etc. as he was at the heart and start of blues.

    1. Wow, all I’m seeing here is, “This is your conductor, Johnny B. Goode: all aboard the Elvis Presley Dick-Riding Train!” Do you usually perform fellatio on dead celebrities in front of everyone, or was it just for my blog? Either way, thanks–I think you’re sweet.

      So, apart from the fact that you’ll never start a thoughtful discussion by asserting that the other party is a ‘moron’, I’d like to point out that it’s best to organize your thoughts into paragraphs–doing this is what separates morons from amateurs and ranters in the writing world. This is usually performed by pressing the ‘Enter’ or ‘Return’ key. Not that I’m calling you a moron… Ha! I’m fucking with you, you’re a complete fucking dumbass. :)

      All jokes aside: holy cow did you miss the point! It’s okay, daddy’s here to explain.

      So the title was pretty clearly just a reference to Eminem’s comments, which definitely popularized the analogy. But it’s not the “in” thing to avoid owning up to Elvis being better than everyone else. Elvis is a great musician but he didn’t invent the blues genre, and while he might have been “the best the world has known” it doesn’t mean he’s “the best that ever lived”. BIG fucking difference there, Johnny.

      I’m not an Elvis cock blower like yourself and I’ll admit I know a lot less about the topic than you seem to, but if I remember correctly his commercial breakout was before 1968, right? Do you know why I’m asking about the year 1968?

      You ever hear of the Civil Rights Movement, Johnny? How about the Civil Rights Act? You know, the whole thing that said us minorities can’t be discriminated against anymore? My understanding is that America used to be a pretty racist place, and commercial success was pretty difficult for minorities. They were considered evil, their music was considered evil, and for the most part, their culture percolating into white society’s was avoided as much as possible. There were barriers to entry in the music industry; hell, there were barriers to entry in the housing industry.

      Call it foolish, but my intuition says that if you don’t have equal opportunity as whites to purchase/live in a home, you probably don’t have the same opportunity as whites to succeed in society fame or income-wise.

      “But what about Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Otis Redding, Booker T & the MG’s?” All legendary to those who want to get to know them, but all performing different genres from Elvis, and none of them achieved the same kind of commercial success as Presley did. (Fun fact, despite the commercial success of Green Onions, Booker T. moonlit selling real estate to make a living wage).

      OH SO ELVIS MUST JUST BE BETTER BECAUSE HE WAS MORE TALENTED OBVIOUSLY ANYONE WHO THINKS DIFFERENT IS WRONG DUH CHRIS.

      Actually, popularity is determined by the racial similarities between the performer and the audience QUITE FUCKING OFTEN. Look at Latin American-dense areas, and the level of Latin American attendance at baseball games when the star player is Latino. Look at county voting results for the last two presidential elections along the high density African American areas in the otherwise Republican deep south.

      I’m sure you know, when Elvis’s music got popular, there was this tension between the traditionalist generation and the Baby-Boomers: “this music is from evil” versus “this music is fucking awesome”. People liked Elvis, they liked the music, but they knew where it came from—African Americans: we can’t have our kids listening to this! On top of this, the music seemed new to the younger generation because THEY HADN’T HEARD IT BEFORE. Commercialized blues from the black community just wasn’t an option at the time.

      Do you REALLY think that if the world had 0% racism, that Elvis would have achieved the same commercial success as he did? That he would have beat out people who were doing it for years and years and years and generations before him? That if the people who he grew up listening to had the SAME level of opportunity for commercial success, he still would have beaten them?

      I think that’s a bold assumption.

      To bring it back to Eminem, he claims to do hip-hop well, but not to be the first. He accepts that he took a different culture’s music, and got successful because he’s white and plays music for white people. “I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley / To do black music so selfishly / And use it to get myself wealthy.” If you’re denying that Elvis did this, you’re seriously just trying to use convenient evidence to cover up your racism.

      “he had more reason to sing blues songs than any black singer from New York, LA, etc.” NO. He was white, he was born 1935, had no problems obtaining housing, had no problems getting jobs; he could sit in the front of busses, drink clean water, and, you know: be white. The blues originates around life sucking ass, not having equality, and working till you’re tired and broken and still being in the same place or worse off.

      Elvis took their music. End of story. This isn’t even an argument: it’s what happened. I’m not saying anything to the quality of his music, his talent, or abilities as a performer. I’m saying that he took a genre that no one in his culture had touched, and did something with it. I’m saying that the conditions were such that he had an easier time making it work. I’m saying Eminem did the same thing. I’m saying that Macklemore is doing that now.

      But it’s so “in” for racist people to say that Elvis did it better than every black person who ever played ever, and his talent was the only reason for success, not a broken system.

      I never want to write this much about my title ever again.
      If you regularly miss the point of articles this much, please never comment on my blog in the future. Your thoughts aren’t even worth the kilobytes on WordPress’s servers.

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