The Night the Twitterverse Exploded: Macklemore & Kendrick Lamar

| February 19, 2014 | 3 Comments

My friend Cherice asked me to write about how I felt about Macklemore’s recent triumphs at the 2014 Grammy awards over the favorite Kendrick Lamar who, despite his slew of nominations, went home award-less.

photo credit: Der Robert via photopin cc

photo credit: Der Robert via photopin cc

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis released their debut album this past year, and were well received by the radio charts, with singles like “Thrift Shop,” which managed to remain on the forefront of listeners minds throughout the entire summer (along with Pharrell’s series of hits “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines”).

Now, to be honest, I’m probably not the best person to judge Macklemore’s album. I listened to it once, and nothing seemed to resonate with me enough to REALLY get into it. I’ve also noticed a particular polarization regarding Macklemore whenever his name was brought up.

Either people loved him and everything he stands for, or people thought he was wack (mostly citing his peculiar haircut). I remained rather impartial, commending him for positive messages in songs like “Same Love,” but noting corny lines from “Thrift Shop” like “I’ll take those flannel zebra jammies, second-hand, I rock that motherf***er.”

While the guy down the street, my Grandma, my sixth-grade science teacher, the ghost of Michael Jackson and I all thought Good Kid, M.a.a.d City would surely win a Grammy from the second they heard “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” unfortunately that was not the case.

photo cred: Merlijn Hoek via flickr

photo cred: Merlijn Hoek via flickr

Then the Internet exploded. Tweeters tweeted their disappointment, which eventually morphed into more sophisticated accusations of racism and white privilege leaking into the hip hop community. But is that really the case? And if so, how come Paul Wall (aka the People’s Champ) has yet to benefit from it?

Or is the case that an artist with two Billboard chart-topping singles and a music video with nearly 500 million YouTube views was awarded for his popularity. Even as a devout fan of Kendrick Lamar, I’ll easily admit that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis made catchier singles and more entertaining music videos. While I do believe Kendrick Lamar deserved a Grammy award this year, I don’t think Macklemore should be condemned for success, nor do I believe that he should have apologized to Kendrick Lamar for “robbing” him of awards. Any animosity felt towards the results of the Grammy awards should not be directed towards the artists, but instead towards the Recording Academy and the criteria they use to determine what is “the Best.”

While a Grammy award serves as a coveted confirmation of one’s success in the music industry, it is important to note that many classic albums did not receive Grammy awards, including Nirvana’s Nevermind and The Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). That being said, do Grammy awards still hold the same weight that they did in yesteryears? I’m sure any artist would like to be awarded one, but with social media fans can directly express their appreciation for an artist’s creations. Artists can now receive validation in other ways.

Many of my favorite artists have yet to win, or never won a Grammy award. The list includes legends like Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Guns N’ Roses. Now I have to add Kendrick Lamar to that list. However, it does not affect my appreciation for him and his music. I’m sure Kendrick Lamar was disappointed having not won a single award, but I doubt he is now questioning the quality of music that he has released, and whether or not his fans are truly supportive of him.

This begs the question, who would you rather be? Macklemore & Ryan Lewis who returned home with their arms filled with new mantel decorations, or Kendrick Lamar whose upset shocked viewers and has thousands of tweeters claiming that his album was the best of the year.

I know that others view this situation differently than I do. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

featured photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

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Greg James Wilson

About the Author ()

A music lover, photographer, and scholar Greg is a native of the Greater Philadelphia area studying in the College of Communication. Greg hosts a WTBU radio show titled "Love of My Life", on Fridays from 10-12pm. Greg has also launched a Photography Company, "Moments of Silence", offering his photographic serves throughout the Greater Boston Area.

Comments (3)

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  1. Emily Sheehan Emily Sheehan says:

    Awards are a fickle thing. Someone will always feels left out no matter what the circumstances are. Both Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore are fantastic artists that have managed to connect with millions in their own, unique ways.(I am personally obsessed with “Starting Over” on the Heist album but that’s neither here nor there…)

    At the end of the day, it’s completely subjective to say one artist is better than the other, because both are talented musicians. To argue about it is even more useless. An award is just a shiny piece of metal that can be put on a shelf in your house, an acknowledgement of success that has already been had. Being able to walk away and say that you won is great! (Here’s for hoping I win an Academy Award!!!) But it’s not the be all end all.

    Great post Greg!

  2. Tino Bratbo says:

    I think this scandal owes a lot to the often subconscious thinking that certain musical genres are the domain of certain groups – some people are wigged out by white guys in hip hop and black guys in Tchaikovsky symphonies. I’m not sure whether I agree with that particular point. I do think that there is a strong historical connection starting with the music of African slaves and leading to blues and to hip hop. But being black doesn’t guarantee an appreciation of that history. Does Lil Wayne consider the slave roots of blues, soul and hip hop when he raps about money and “bitches”? I don’t know… I do know that Hugh Laurie, the whitest of the white, is doing wonderful work with jazz and blues and has a profound appreciation for the history of the genre.

    I do want to echo your later point – I don’t think the Grammys are an accurate bellwether for quality. They’re superfluous popularity contests. True artists, whether musical, drama or fine arts, are remembered for their awards. They’re remembered because hundreds of years later they still stir something in us. Does anyone remember what awards Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, and Otis Redding got? I don’t.

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