I am not a rap kid. My good friend Jill, as well as a handful of friends with her, could very easily attest to that. Of course I love a good ODB song (in essence, I like that one song my first boyfriend in high school introduced me to, and yes, it is the same song all fake rap fans like), but for the most part, I am rap-illiterate. What’s good? What’s “hard?” Is “hard” even a word still used to describe rap, or just a Rihanna reference? I digress…
That said, up until early this summer, I could not spit the lyrics (yeah, I said it) to any rap song save for much of Ludacris’ anthology. It actually became a bit of a party trick, and one I enjoyed because it means I got attention for at least two minutes and 33 seconds: someone would put on Luda during a rousing game of YouTube karaoke, and first-time audiences would wonder at classic-rock Kayla rapping right beside our favourite midget-necklaced semi-badass. That was until I met Macklemore.
This post is uncool, because Macklemore was neat-o long enough ago that it’s dorky to be a new fan, but not long enough ago that it’s considered retro (like the aforementioned Ludacris love). And despite the groans I hear coming from a few choice haters in Ottawa (my friend Eric), I am proud to shout it: I fucking love Macklemore [and Ryan Lewis]. Nothing new, nothing new, but I feel the need to explain why I think he has opened my eyes to a true enjoyment of rap. Unlike other artists of the genre (I like to call them Gs), Macklemore’s [and Ryan Lewis’] fusion of rap and pop is just happy enough to appease my sing-in-the-shower side, but also deep enough to make me less embarrassed by this side of my personality.
That said, there is something else that his music offers that is primarily helpful to rap neophytes: he is so damn accessible. When my friends throw on Wu Tang or Shad, it sort of makes me feel dumb. It’s not that I don’t understand what they’re saying, and it’s not that I don’t appreciate their sound. It is, essentially, that I feel like I needed to be a fan from the early days in order to truly enjoy their music. It might be because Macklemore’s fame is newer than the other rappers I have been exposed to (and thus his anthology is smaller), but instead of feeling behind or like I’m not a true fan, I am just genuinely excited to hear Macklemore songs I’ve never heard before. There are a number of access points into his stuff (“Otherside” for the introspective, “Thrift Shop” for the goofs, “Can’t Hold Us” for the trend whores like myself). When I discuss his music with rap fans and other know-nothings alike, it doesn’t feel like a conversation or a competition to have the “right” reaction to a song. His songs span a pretty wide divide, and because of that, appeal to a number of different people while still, technically, being “rap.” That is, of course, unless the reaction is a refusal to even give his music a go/only listen to Thrift Shop and thereafter write him off. Then you’re wrong. (Happy hypocrisy!)
Oh, and to those reading this sitting there saying that I only love Macklemore because I don’t know rap, you’re the type of elitist people that inspire me to connect more with his music than that of “real” rap artists.
This entire post was essentially me jacking off about an artist I really like, but I just wanted to share the love with other people who feel like impostors when they listen to rap. There is a rap(esque) artist for EVERYONE. Also, as a side note, I am a lot better at behaving like an aggressive Torontonian when music from The Heist are bursting my ear drums on the subway.
Keeping with the lists, I now offer a collection of some of my favourite Macklemore lyrics. (I’m blog-spitting lines. Not to be confuse with blog-snorting lines. Which is just unrealistic). Hit me up with your feedback! Know any other rap artists who are just as accessible? Love him? Hate him? Wish I would just stop talking?
10. “Coppin’ it, washin’ it, ’bout to go and get some compliments
Passin’ up on those moccasins someone else’s been walkin’ in
Bummy and grungy, fuck it, man
I am stuntin’ and flossin’ and
Savin’ my money and I’m hella happy that’s a bargain, bitch.”
– Thrift Shop ft. Wanz, The Heist
9. “Lady, what you want me to say?
The lies and deception
I tried to confess it
Committed, but I still wanna play.”
– Good for You ft Step Cousins, The Language of My World.
8. “Instead of staying the same
Because I see better days ahead of me
I paint them on the page
Then I save them for the rainy ones
When anger and the anguish want to hang around
I say em outloud and complain to them.”
– As Soon as I Wake Up, The Language of My World
7. “I wear war paint, fight to the casket
Too tired to apologize on this mattress
Emotional detachment – what’s the matter?
She’s learning that she never should have
Dated a rapper.”
– Thin Line ft. Buffalo Madonna, The Heist.
6. “And they say, ‘Don’t forget where you come from
Don’t die holding on to your words
Cause you know you got a whole world to change
But understand who you got to change first.'”
– Victory Lap, The Heist.
5. “Truth to the youth so they know what’s up
Yup, and as a public school student
I learned from my teachers, but became through my music.”
– The Town, The Unplanned Mixtape.
4. “I got my city right behind me.
If I fall, they got me.
Learn from that failure gain humility,
And then we keep marching ourselves.”
– Can’t Hold Us ft. Ray Dalton, The Heist.
3. “Callin’ to the preacher, but it’s like the pastor isn’t talking
Until the store opens I can re-up on that doctrine
The people close to me say that I’m in need of a doctor
Think that I got a problem – but these are not apostles
This is the drink of the Lord, that’s according to my gospel.”
– Neon Cathedral ft. Allen Stone, The Heist.
2. “This is not Californication
There’s no way to glorify this pavement
Syrup, Percocet, and an eighth a day will leave you broke, depressed, and emotionally vacant
Despite how Lil Wayne lives
It’s not conducive to being creative.”
– Otherside, The Vs. Ep.
1. “See, I observed Escher,
I love Basquiat,
I watched Keith Haring,
You see I study art.
The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great cause they paint a lot.”
– Ten Thousand Hours, The Heist. (Oh hey inspiring anthem magic).