Well, it was what we thought it was. The 2014 Grammy Awards came and went, with the same frustration and disappointment that seems to follow the milestone award ceremony year-to-year. After a run-up to the show that included the judges for Hip-Hop suggesting that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis not be included in the rap category for their album, The Heist, which eventually stayed put, winning that and sweeping the rap category. A lot else happened at this year’s Grammys, but this may have been the biggest robbery since Naughty By Nature’s Poverty’s Paradise beat out 2pac’s Me Against The World in 1996, the first year the title was a part of the festivities. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis deserve a ton of credit, and they certainly received it last night, but The Heist was not the best rap album of the year by any stretch. To be fair, Kendrick’s Good Kid, m.A.A.d City should have been last year’s Rap Album of the Year, having been released in October of 2012, but nonetheless was the most powerful album on the list by far.
Last night Macklemore & Ryan Lewis very well may have realized both the best and possibly most damaging moment of their careers. A lot was written about ‘white privilege’ in hip-hop and the Grammys at large and the inevitability of the Seattle rapper walking away with the golden gramophone. To be fair, The Heist deserves accolades, but different ones. It is a huge independent success that has laid a road for artists like Chance The Rapper to keep from signing, and furthered the ability of an artist to create music creatively and find an outlet, but even he knew what would happen if the Grammy voters were as un-inventive as ever, choosing him for every award available. In an interview with The Source Macklemore said: ““We’re up against Kendrick, who made a phenomenal album. If we win a Grammy for Best Rap Album, hip-hop is going to be heated. In terms of [that category], I think it should go to Kendrick. He’s family. TDE is family, and I understand why hip-hop would feel like Kendrick got robbed [if he didn’t win].”
One thing is for sure; Kendrick got robbed. No one in the building or watching on TV last night can dispute that, but at least they got it wrong with the right guy. With a message behind his music that saw 33 gay marriages happen live onstage, Macklemore allowed an optimistic spirit in a year when we crept to the edge of the fiscal cliff several times while battling each other over petty social issues seemingly on the daily. The hip-hop game needed a breath of fresh air and got it in Kendrick Lamar, but the greater world needed a breath of fresh air from day-to-day life, and that’s what Macklemore & Ryan Lewis provided. On his 2009 mixtape, The Kendrick Lamar EP, K Dot rhymes, “See y’all don’t understand me/My plan B is to win y’all hearts before I win a Grammy.” With those bars in mind, perhaps no one understands Kendrick’s loss better than him.
Macklemore’s text to Kendrick afterwards.