Macklemore: I Wouldn't Have Been as Successful If I Were Black

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Digital Skunk, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination

    Link to article.

    I haven't heard any of his music. The article asks some interesting questions, but I don't think he should stop rapping just because he knows he's taking advantage of his "white privilege" and of white audiences gravitating to him.

    In fact, he should keep getting in the spotlight, and continue to point out the problems and closet racism that exists in the audiences and the industry.
  2. roadbloc macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    Interesting. I enjoyed one of the two singles I heard off him, the one where him and a load of people are running around some sort of clothes store. But yes, I have to agree with him. The vast majority of the world is still racist. Often, without even realising it.
  3. Digital Skunk thread starter macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    To be fair, I wouldn't call it racist, and I will change it in my OP. It's just an issue a majority of people in America (my only reference) have when it comes to perception.

    People just feel more comfortable buying something that has a face like theirs on it. It's that perception that we need to change first before anyone should consider the race issue in America solved.

    For example, when Hollywood decides to make a Superman or Batman movie in 2020, and they cast Idris Alba, or some smoking hot Mexican actor as Bruce Wayne or Kent, and no one bats an eye, then the issue is solved. And I mean, not a batted eye lid, no one blasts it on the news, no one hold up a sign in protest (maybe some minor backwoods folk that no one gives any attention to), no one makes a big deal out of it at all, not even black folks.
  4. Happybunny macrumors 68000

    Sep 9, 2010
    Been there done this, I remember back in the early sixties when the British bands of the day released cover versions of original blues artists.
    But through this I discovered along with very many others the wonderful world of Chicago Blues, centered around Chess Records.
    Because somebody opened the door on this treasure trove I later discovered, Delta blues, and the magic of Memphis.
    Eric Clapton to name just one artist is widely accepted by blues artists around the world.
  5. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
    I got $20 in my pocket and I'm not buying his music.
  6. SwiftLives macrumors 65816


    Dec 7, 2001
    Charleston, SC
    I'm only familiar with two of his songs. I can't speak toward the racial aspect of his music. But I can say he has a very interesting approach. One of his singles - Thrift Shop - is basically about scoring cheap bargains at a thrift store. And that's a perspective I don't hear much from other artists in the genre who are oftentimes singing about wealth and materialistic posesesions. His second single - Same Love - is about legalizing gay marriage - another topic I've yet to hear broached by any mainstream artist (of any genre).

    Personally, I think it's more than him being white - I think there's a refreshing different perspective that he brings to his music. And I believe that has a lot to do with his success.

    Here are some links to the videos on youtube:
    Thrift Shop | Same Love
  7. sviato macrumors 68020


    Oct 27, 2010
    HR 9038 A
    There are several reasons why I think Macklemore stands out (although I haven't actually heard any of his music):

    - there are a lot more black rappers than white rappers in the media, so him being white is likely to be a noticeable trait
    - as said by other posters here, his music seems to be more progressive compared to the older rap which was mostly about "money, drugs, and hoes"
    - rap isn't as popular as it once was (at least in my area) and there seem to be a lot less popular rappers since a lot of artists seem to be taking the hip-hop route and just whining about some girl in their song like a lot of top40 songs are now, so a good rapper in this day is bound to get more attention

    This is my opinion of some of the reasons that may have helped this guy become successful. A friend of mine went to his concert recently and said it was a very fun experience so he's doing something right.
  8. Digital Skunk thread starter macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    True, and the real question would be whether or not those British bands admitted to taking the style of music from African American counterparts. I don't think anyone in the early sixties would've wanted to admit that they were bringing African American music to the "mainstream" and hence making their money off of something they didn't originally create.

    All somewhat true. The concept of a white rapper is old news. The Beastie Boys are my earliest known reference. Rap is still as popular a genre in both American and African American circles as Rock, Jazz, and EMO is. I do agree about it being almost garbage in terms of what the mainstream listens to though, but that's always been the case with all forms of music.

    Some of the most mainstream rocks bands all sound the same, and there are just SO MANY of them that just suck the same whether it's hard rock or Christian rock . . . . they sound exactly the same.

    The article thankfully mentions one recent breakthrough in mainstream hip-hop:

    Which i would happen to agree with. Kendrick definitely brought thought back into the equation; even if I haven't listened to Macklemore, Kendrick is rapping about things deeper than pill popping and booty shaking.
  9. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
  10. malman89 macrumors 68000

    May 29, 2011
    I think the fact that he is white does help in a variety of ways.

    It makes (mainly non African-American) people more receptive to listen to his music if they are not one to typically listen to that genre.

    It also helps him stand out - even if he wasn't wearing big fur coats, tanks, and spandex - white artists are still a minority in that genre.

    That helps bring in the hipsters and the soccer moms and whoever else wouldn't quite normally listen to his music. Combine that with the rap/hip-hop fans who just love his music for what it is and you get mega sales.
  11. DUCKofD3ATH Suspended


    Jun 6, 2005
    Universe 0 Timeline
    A self-aware rap singer. If rap music wasn't so awful, I might be impressed.
  12. tshrimp macrumors 6502


    Mar 30, 2012
    I would think being white would have hurt him. As for moms and kids listing to his music because he is white....Not sure about that one. The words to his songs are far from clean, and no "Parent" should be letting their kid listen to this guy regardless of color.
  13. Happybunny macrumors 68000

    Sep 9, 2010
    I really do think that you should be better informed before you make these statements.

    All the major British bands of the times, Rolling Stones, Animals, Yardbirds, Alexis Corner. Would go on and on about just how good these old blues men were, and how much these people had influenced them and their music.

    Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf and many others were brought to tour in the UK.

    Over the Rolling Stones

    We got heavily into the blues – Chicago blues particularly because every major, modern blues artist was coming out of Chicago. . . we weren’t writing our own songs then. We were just playing mostly blues & rock ‘n roll-Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters stuff.” – Keith Richards
    “We used to watch Chuck Berry films over and over and over to see how he would play certain licks. Keith [Richards] and I would go to the cinema like 6 or 9 times just to see the Chuck Berry section. . . to see how he put his hands on the guitar, and how he played this part and this solo.” – Mick Jagger

    This does not sound like they were trying to claim that it was all their own work, if anything it looks like they were saying that they were copying.

    See more at:

    A quote from Muddy Waters.

    Muddy headed to England in 1958 and shocked audiences (whose only previous exposure to blues had come via the acoustic folk/blues sounds of acts such as Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and Big Bill Broonzy) with his loud, amplified electric guitar and thunderous beat. His performance at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival, recorded and released as his first live album, At Newport 1960, helped turn on a whole new generation to Muddy's sound. He expressed dismay when he realized that members of his own race were turning their backs on the genre while a white audience had shown increasing respect for the blues.[

    In October 1963 Clapton joined The Yardbirds, a blues-influenced rock and roll band, and stayed with them until March 1965. Synthesising influences from Chicago blues and leading blues guitarists such as Buddy Guy, Freddie King, and B. B. King, Clapton forged a distinctive style and rapidly became one of the most talked-about guitarists in the British music scene.[18] The band initially played Chess/Checker/Vee-Jay blues numbers and began to attract a large cult following when they took over the Rolling Stones' residency at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond. They toured England with American bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson II; a joint LP album, recorded in December 1963, was issued in 1965.
  14. localoid macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2007
    America's Third World
    Macklemore addresses the cultural appropriation issue head-on in his "White Privilege" song (video w/lyrics, below).

    But this sort of "borrowing" from other cultures is nothing new. The "blue-eyed soul" bands of the 1960s made no effort to hide the origins of their music, for example.

    Antonín Dvořák, the world-renown Czech Romantic Era composer, predicted the influence that Black music would have on the "New World" 'way back in 1892, when, upon his first arrival in America, he observed:

    "I am convinced that the future music of this country must be founded on what are called Negro melodies. These can be the foundation of a serious and original school of composition, to be developed in the United States. These beautiful and varied themes are the product of the soil. They are the folk songs of America and your composers must turn to them."
  15. lostngone macrumors 65816


    Aug 11, 2003
    Does it make me a racist then if I am white and don't know any of his songs or who he is?
  16. AhmedFaisal, Aug 22, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2013
  17. localoid, Aug 22, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013

    localoid macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2007
    America's Third World
    Well, someone tried that in 1989, but it didn't catch on... (but neither did dancing about architecture)...

  18. haxrnick macrumors 6502a


    Aug 4, 2011
    Bunch of racists here calling him white. It's European American.
  19. Bug-Creator macrumors 6502


    May 30, 2011
    Yeah, lack of pigmentation is a serious issue !!!
  20. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Feb 2, 2009
    Toronto, Ontario
    Yes because when I think of successful rappers I think of white people.

    What a strange statement considering most successful rappers are black and the majority of their music is bought by white people.
  21. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

    Oct 31, 2009
    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
    When the ALTERNATIVE stations are playing Thrift Shop, you know that this guy has something that the others don't have.

    I like the album because it's mostly clean (not in language, but in content for the most part). There's so much hip-hop/rap that is just plain ugly and degrading. It's so refreshing to see someone who doesn't HATE the world, women, and goes on about drugs, killing, and guns in extreme mode.

    Musically, it also sounds REALLY good. At least to someone who likes different styles. It has trumpets, pianos, weird synths, and all the stuff that's not typically on the mainstream hip-hop genre today (okay, there might be a few I can think of), and it blends that with the beats that you do associate with it. The people who feature on the songs are also very interesting too. It ends with a folky song, hahaha.

    Listen to it in its entirety from start to finish. It'll surprise you. There's even an instrumental track. You might not like a few songs songs, but otherwise it's a solid album.

    It's not that he's white, it's just that he's brought something to the table that is totally different to what we're used to.
  22. skottichan macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2007
    Columbus, OH
    Honestly, I'm a big fan of his, but it's not because of his skin color, but of his message. I got lured in by the pop-y Thrift Shop, but when I listened to his album on Spotify, I realized there was more to his message than mocking the Western need to have names attached to their clothes.

    He tends to be critical of Western Culture and how we treat those without privilege. His stuff it smart, and well written.

    I have to admit, I'm amused at how many people in this thread just write him (and the genre) off. It's just weird to me, maybe because my mum and uncles exposed me to so much music when I was young, that it feels dirty to me to write something off before trying it.

    As to the title and interview. He's right. It's like the Beastie Boys, Vanilla Ice (before he blew it) and to a lesser extent Eminem, middle class soccer moms see his clean ginger face and it makes them feel good about themselves, so they allow their children to listen. Hell, this isn't even the first time a white rapper has called that out, Eminem mentions it at least once on every album.

    What really repulses me, is how much **** Darrius Rucker got from country fans, including a very recent Tweet "Leave Country to the white folk".
  23. malman89 macrumors 68000

    May 29, 2011
    This is a fun observation I've had where recently where alternative hits are becoming more mainstream.

    There's always been bands that have been able to attract a wide audience, but I think it's becoming more and more common.

    Macklemore was only played on the alternative station around July. By the end of August he was T40 and everywhere.

    Same goes for Imagine Dragons. Heard them all the time on the alternative stations. Now they're picked up by T40 stations, music is in commercials, and they're the #2 album on Spotify. They're everywhere.

    Capital Cities looks to be next - thought I heard them on T40 radio the other day.

    That doesn't even cover other recent bands like Fun and The Lumineers or upcoming (mainstream) popular artists like AWOLNATION or Lorde.

    It's just kind of interesting to look and see how lines between genres and attitudes to different music are changing.
  24. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    ^^ This is ****ing awesome.
  25. GermanyChris macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    If you move a bit further on you'll find Blondie pulling from an infant Rap scene. She was also more than willing to talk about NY Rap and it's influence.

    Music is one of those places that will always mix because the sound or the statement just is, it's cross cultural.

    I listen to Punk mostly it's is the epitome of angry white guy stuff, but even then you'll to find an incredible cross hatch mixed in. It would be almost impossible to grow up in the last 50 years and not be influenced by other music styles.

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