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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 10 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 32
Macklemore brings the love
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Macklemore brings the love

Seattle rapper's latest single is a valentine to the LGBT community

by Dru Dinero - Special to the SGN

Human beings are communicative and social creatures. Like any other animal, we howl in both victory and pain. Simply put, we all have something to say. In recent years, many high-profile entertainers have come out as LGBT and were applauded by their fans for doing so. Last month, CNN's Anderson Cooper came out and so did Frank Ocean, who is credited for changing the way hip-hop fans view the Gay community. Luckily for us, we have a thoughtful and talented artist in our very own backyard: Seattle-based hip-hop recording artist Macklemore, who is helping with this effort in his own way.

'When I was in the third grade, I thought that I was Gay/ 'cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight,' are the opening lyrics in his new hit single, 'Same Love,' in which he voices his support for LGBT equality.

With over half a million plays within the first few days of its release, 'Same Love' is the most successful record Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis, straight allies to the LGBT community, have put out thus far.

Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, is a music festival sensation and a fixture on the local hip-hop scene. He's performed at the Capitol Hill Block Party, Bumbershoot, and Sasquatch, and has toured across the U.S. and Europe. Macklemore has steadily worked on his music career since 2000. He was recently named 'Unsigned Hype' in The Source magazine and part of the 'Freshman Class of 2012' in XXL magazine - solid recognitions in the world of independent hip-hop.

I spoke with Macklemore, 29, about 'Same Love' and asked him to elaborate on the meaning behind it. The story begins when Macklemore was just eight years old.

As a boy, Macklemore was confused about what it meant to be Gay. This was due, in part, to a collision of religious beliefs and societal stereotypes in his head. Being an artist, he was, as he puts it, 'a crazy kid who was super into dressing up, musicals, acting, performing, and always wanting to be on stage.'

'I was just an eccentric, eclectic little kid,' he said.

In addition, he was aware that several members of his family were Gay.

'I really cared about how my hair looked when I was a little kid,' he recalled. Because children don't think in terms of sexual orientation, the young boy deduced that because he liked music, was an artist, and cared about what he looked like, he must be Gay.

Macklemore grew up in the Catholic religion. Although he didn't fully understand at age 8 what it meant to be Gay, he did understand that, according to the church, it was not OK.

He has since renounced the church, writing on his official website that Catholicism is 'easily [becoming] a platform for hate and prejudice.'

In 'Same Love' Macklemore states, 'if you preach hate at the service those words aren't anointed/ and that holy water that you soak in is then poisoned.'

The influence of hip-hop music, a genre that has been known to have a general haze of homophobia clouding it, made a huge impact on his life. 'Unfortunately,' said Macklemore, 'intolerance of the Gay community in hip-hop is widespread.'

'The best rappers use homophobic language on albums that critics rave about, making hip-hop and homophobia inextricably linked,' he added.

However, Macklemore vowed to do his part in changing the face of hip-hop into a more inclusive genre of music.

'I am aware of how comfortable I, and many other straight people, have become in staying silent on this issue,' he admitted. 'If we choose to not speak on an issue of injustice out of fear, or how our peers might perceive us, we're part of the problem.'

Ditching that fear, Macklemore has taken a firm stance as a straight ally, making appearances at shows and photo shoots sporting T-shirts with pro-LGBT messaging such as 'Vote Love' and 'Legalize Gay Marriage,' and featuring his Gay uncle, John Haggerty, and his partner, Sean, on one of the 'Same Love' artworks. 'Approve Ref. 74' is boldly written on the record's face.

From family members to new and old fans, Macklemore has been showered with praise for the courageous act of putting out this song. Haggerty told SGN, 'I couldn't be prouder of my nephew, Ben.'

I spoke with another local Seattle rapper, Larry Hawkins, who happens to be a Macklemore fan and who confirmed that Macklemore's support for the LGBT community, and his ask that people Approve Referendum 74 in November, has brought him more respect among the local hip-hop community.

'I don't care who you are, [rappers in Seattle] are not doing it big like Macklemore,' said Hawkins. 'He is the face of Seattle right now, and for him to come out with a song like 'Same Love' not only opens new doors for him, but also opens up the interpretation of what hip-hop music can be.

'I respect him 100%,' continued Hawkins.

When I asked Macklemore how 'Same Love' is different from his other songs, he said he had wanted to write this song for the past year but didn't know how to approach it. But then he realized that the best approach would be to tell how homosexuality and homophobia had played out in his own life. Accompanied by Mary Lambert's satin voice on the chorus and an intro with a lullaby piano, 'Same Love' is a hit. It's unforgettable and simply makes you feel good and hopeful about equality's future.

'Same Love' joins Macklemore to other straight hip-hop artists such as Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Tyler the Creator, and others who have come out in support of LGBT rights.

On October 9, Macklemore is scheduled to release his first full-length album, The Heist, produced by Ryan Lewis. 'Same Love' will be featured on the album, but the single is available right now on iTunes. The Heist World Tour, promoting the album, will hit Seattle on October 12 at WaMu Theater. For more tour dates and updates on Macklemore and his endeavors, visit his website, www.macklemore.com.

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