RETROSPECT // MACKLEMORE
Macklemore can’t keep a secret. When word got out that he was playing an impromptu performance at Neumos, a line of fans (fanatics?) began forming at 9am. Before long all six hundred spots were spoken for and an additional “second chance line” grew to the side. It looked almost as long. You can’t blame ‘em. The man’s worth waiting for.
The show was the unofficial debut of “The Heist,” the much-anticipated new release from Macklemore and partner in crime Ryan Lewis. When Mack’ took to the stage, it was madness. All hands were in the air. The noise was big. Like Oprah car giveaway big. The almost cultish crowd knew the words to songs that have yet to be formally released and have never been performed. It would be unnerving if it weren’t awesome.
“The Heist” has been three years in the making. Like I said, worth the wait. The new album features lush, fully realized instrumentals (Lewis has clearly been hard at work) and the superbly slick lyrics we’ve come to expect from the silver-tongued Seattle son. The phrase radio-ready comes to mind.
In the aftermath of their international success (Mack’ confessed to being humbled by sold out European tours), the pair have been approached by every major label in the biz. But they didn’t bite – they weren’t impressed by New York impresarios or LA label execs. To this effect, a new track about breaking into Interscope Records to steal a contract, only find it isn’t at all what you wanted, is a sharp addition to “The Heist.” In lieu of a label, they’re keeping it homegrown. And, in doing so, if the crowd response was any indication (deafening), they’ve forever cemented their reputation as hometown heroes.
Recently, Macklemore has been making headlines as a hero to the LGBT community. The standout moment of the night was without a doubt the debut of “Same Love,” a tender track that tackles homophobia in hip-hop and voices unequivocal support for same-sex marriage. In keeping with the intimate affair (the set featured a living room perfect for couch-confessionals delivered between tracks) the pair shared the origins of the song for the captivated crowd.
Floored by the suicide of a thirteen year old gay student whose life was lost to bullying and the deaf ears of teachers and administrators, Macklemore knew that someone had to speak up. Speak out. And so he got to writing. The first version of the song was written from the teen’s perspective, but, as Lewis didn’t hesitate to point out, it felt forced and insincere. The resulting rewrite details Macklemore’s personal relationship with the issue. From growing up on Capitol Hill, attending St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s, to having gay uncles and a gay godfather, to wondering at an early age if he himself might be attracted to the same sex (he’s not – sorry, boys), to entering the historically homophobic world of hip hop – the song is stunning in its simplicity, and stronger for its candor.
Macklemore put his money where his mouth is. Partnering with Music For Marriage Equality, proceeds from the vinyl sales go to the cause – so far they’ve raised $20,000. And, in a ‘Vote Love’ tank-top, he directed the at-capacity crowd to a table to register to vote. YES ON REFERENDUM 74, people. Same Love.
Watching Macklemore live, it’s no wonder that he’s blowing up so hard. Shows sell out. Tours sell out. Videos rack up millions of views. And it’s all well deserved. He’s a virtuouso, the sort of musician who was born to carry out his craft. The thought of this man sitting behind a desk or standing behind a counter – well it’s just unthinkable. Leaping off amps, stomping across the stage with serious swag, an unmistakable spring in his step, and an unstoppable smile, it’s clear that this guy is going places. The crowd clearly agreed – he didn’t crowd surf, he walked across them. Like a rhyming Jesus.
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