The Real Problem With Macklemore

One of the Internet's favorite pastimes is having opinions about Macklemore. This is not because he is a particularly good or interesting rapper, but instead because he is a particularly non-good and non-interesting rapper who is extremely popular and has more money than everyone who has ever blogged about him combined. He seems to understand that he pisses people off and acts like he feels vaguely bad about it, which is even more maddening to people on who did not make "Thrift Shop". And just when you think the discourse around Macklemore has quieted down, Mr. Steal-Yo-Grampa's-Clothes tends to find a way to reinsert himself into rap's conversation, or at least finds the conversation thrust upon him.

Yesterday, we found ourselves engaged yet again in first-degree Talking About Macklemore when it came to our attention that he’d beaten out Kendrick Lamar at the Grammys for Best Rap Album, and then texted him about how he felt bad he’d beaten him, and then posted an Instagram of that text to show that he was really really sorry about it. This prompted yet another round of anti-Macklemore thinkpiecery.

Now, allow me to be clear—people who are genuinely surprised upset that Macklemore won a bunch of Grammys are fucking idiots. The Grammys, and any award ceremony on TV for that matter, are not an actual metric of the taste of young people who like good things. If they were, Gucci Mane would have a million Grammys and Killa Season would have won Best Picture in addition to going platinum, stupid. Just because Kendrick Lamar, a musician we actually like for once, was nominated for a bunch of Grammys doesn't mean they were going to magically get less shitty. "You think I give a fuck about a Grammy?" Eminem once rapped, and he was right in doing so. All awards are arbitrary just like the fact that we will all die alone.

Still, there’s this nagging, sinking feeling that comes with thinking about Macklemore’s Grammy wins. Not because he won them by circumventing the paths to traditional hip-hop stardom and then pretended to feel bad about it, or because the so-called socially progressive message of songs like “Same Love” help blind people to his privilege, even as he, himself, starts a pro-gay marriage anthem by rapping, "When I was in third grade, I thought I was gay," essentially the hella-liberal bro version of "no homo." He is annoying for these reasons, sure. But what kills people the most about Macklemore is that he's categorically fucking swagless.

He used the phrase 'turn up function' to caption an Instagram selfie he took with Miley Cyrus, which managed to siphon the swagger right out of words like 'turn up', 'function' and 'Miley Cyrus', relocating them directly to hell.

The reason people who love rap hate Macklemore is because it is embarrassing to have that dude be what adult, mainstream America thinks of when they think about hip-hop. Now, when I say "mainstream America," I don’t mean your little cousin who works at Aeropostale and gets buck at the Applebee's in Shelby, North Carolina on a Friday night. I mean your parents, your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, women with grey-blue wigs you might pass in the grocery store and pay no mind to, people with eyeballs and ears and souls who despite those eyeballs and ears and souls still have no fucking idea what rap music is. There is room enough in these people's brains for one rapper at a time to occupy their notion of "Rap Music," and because he's just won a bunch of Grammys and everyone is talking about him, right now that rapper is Macklemore. And that's fucking horrifying. It makes me want to stop caring about rap and instead listen to some shit like polka because, at this point, even accordions are less embarrassing than Macklemore.

To wrap up, here are all of the reasons why Macklemore is uncool and makes me, as a rap fan, shiver: He is an unfunny episode of Portlandia brought to life, the personification of why the well-meaning American upper-middle-class is a fucking nightmare. His favorite movie is probably An Inconvenient Truth. Saying, "I am a Macklemore fan" in a mirror three times in a row will automatically make you donate to your local 4H Club. His hair makes his head look like something you'd clean a dry erase board with. He used the phrase "turn up function" to caption an Instagram selfie he took with Miley Cyrus, which managed to siphon the swagger right out of words like "turn up", "function" and "Miley Cyrus", relocating them directly to hell. The face he uses in his said selfies is the sort of smug, self-satisfied grin that just begs to be punched off of someone's fucking face. Macklemore sucks because he tries to take hip-hop and make it goofy, fun and family-friendly, but does so in a way that makes it seem like he's making fun of it. He sucks because we shouldn’t even have to debate whether or not he sucks because he shouldn’t exist. He sucks because he seems like a nice guy, but he also sucks because meaning well can only get you so far. He sucks because his music is wild corny and makes him seem like he's really into Reddit. He sucks because in the face of all his success he has only paid lip service to the idea that he might have become successful by taking advantage of the fact that he is white and good looking, and this gives everyone the sneaking suspicion that he just might suck because he is disingenuous and not actually worried about his privilege.

And really, why should Macklemore be contritious about his fame and success? He has millions of dollars and a bunch of Grammys, and we have zero dollars and zero Grammys because those things don’t exist when you hold the moral high ground. All we have to cling to is our precious coolness, something Macklemore gave up long ago on the road to fame and fortune. We are cool, Macklemore is not, this is fucking awesome.

Drew Millard wrote this while drinking sake on a Suzuki in Osaka Bay. You can read more of his work over at Noisey and follow him on Twitter here.