Brother Ali & Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (& Forest Whitiker)
I don't have anything against Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's success.
I am aware that they rub some people wrong (although I don't think it is justified). There is no denying that they were one of the most noticeable causes of one of the bigger post-VMA talking points. No, not the ‘Miley Tongue Twerk’ stuff. And not the ‘How Many Times Are They Going To Cut To Taylor Swift?’ one. I'm talking about the ‘All The Winners Were White’ thing. I may not be a doctor, but whenever you have an awards night where almost all of the winners are white… the two caucasian guys holding all the hip hop awards are always going to look the palest. I get that.
But this isn't a post about race stuff. I mention that not because of the obvious direction this post could easily grow towards, but because when I tried writing a post about Kanye needing to chill a little bit… I got told to both “shut the fuck up” and “shut your ass up”. I didn't think that I was commenting on anything that had to do with race in that post, but I guess that sort of stuff can easily be found.
And this post is not about what real hip hop is. Growing up in a small Canadian farm town and being white my whole life doesn't necessarily mean that I can't have a calculated opinion on the matter, but growing up in a small Canadian farm town and being white my whole life probably played a role in me not being well-versed in the world of hip hop. There is stuff I like and there is stuff I don't, but it's definitely not my field house.
Even though I may not post that much about hip hop, I do listen to a bit of it. And I'd be lying if I said that I think Macklemore & Ryan Lewis suck. If you're not deaf, you can hear why they've done so well. The horns and vibe on ‘Thrift Shop’ is way stronger than any urge to think too critically about what the bigger picture of the success of it might mean. And those Mary Lambert vocals on 'Same Love' hit hard enough in the heart guts that it didn't even occur to me that the songs success could be viewed as a bad thing (i.e. if you get out your google pants, you can easily find articles about ‘Straight Guys Co-Opting The LGBT Movement’). But this post isn't really about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
It's just that the other day, this Brother Ali track came on ‘Mix Tape Radio by HI54LOFI’, and it got me thinking about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (yes… I sometimes listen to my own radio station). But not because they're white and Brother Ali is whiter (interesting fact: Brother Ali is albino). The skin colour thing may have eventually seeped into my thought process, but that's not where the train started.
‘Forest Whitiker’ is just a total jam.
Maybe it has sold really well (it came out 10 years ago), but I think it's fair to assume that it hasn't sold nearly as well as M&RL's ‘Thrift Shop’. And surely not as well as ‘Thrift Shop’ and ‘Same Love’ combined. Which doesn't seem right. Because when I listen to Brother Ali's ode to feeling good about yourself, I get the feeling I would get if you combined the way that I felt the first few times I heard ‘Thrift Shop’ (i.e. pretty good / cool) and the way that I felt the first few times I heard ‘Same Love’ (i.e. a little “we're all perfect, just the way they are”).
So, when you do the Math and leave out the Social Studies, 'Forest Whitiker’ is twice as good of a song. You can check the math again, but I think it's right (it's simple mathematics, after all).
I guess what I'm getting at here is this: everyone who has made Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as big as they are, if you haven't already, you should go get 'Forest Whitiker'.