During an interview with HipHopDX, Macklemore admitted it was difficult being slammed for the art he made with 2012’s The Heist.
His record infamously beat out Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed debut LP, good kid, m.A.A.d city, during the 56th GRAMMY Awards, with media then and now labeling it as the “infamous snub.” The Seattle-based rapper addressed being labeled a culture vulture in the aftermath and revealed that it previously made him feel a way.
“I think that it did hurt my feelings at the very beginning,” he said. “When ‘Thrift Shop’ was at its peak and the biggest song in the world, that’s when the think pieces started coming out around cultural appropriation, and one hit wonder, and all of this assessment and analysis. We were at a different place with whiteness in Hip Hop a decade ago. It was a very different time.”
As the scathing critiques poured in, the “Dance Off” entertainer expressed that he found solace in the criticism. Macklemore stated he began to listen to what was being said and dug deeper in himself, understanding that he “can’t control who resonates with [his] art.”
“I get to tell my story. That’s it. That’s what I’m in control of. I get to make the music that I make. What happens after that is completely out of my control, I am powerless,” he continued. “Once I started to really work on that and do a deep dive — because I had no other choice, right? I was getting scrutinized by the world. I won the Grammys, I apologized to Kendrick, and everyone’s like, ‘You suck. You’re not Hip Hop.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ There’s only two ways out of this: stopping or accepting it.”
“Because whatever everyone else was saying about me wasn’t my truth. If I know myself, if I’m coming from a place of faith rather than fear, if I’m coming from radical love versus hatred, if I’m coming from a place of, ‘This is authentically me, take it or leave it,’ it’s not my business what the final decision is. That’s it. I don’t control other people’s perspective. Really it’s like The Four Agreements — it’s not any of my business.”
Macklemore concluded his conversation stating that, in creating albums after The Heist, he had to ignore the objections against his art.
“The truth is, I’m the best version of me when I let go of all of that, and I actually have the best shot of changing the world if I can let go of that. I cannot be someone that is a servant to a conduit bigger than myself if I am thinking about myself in this place of ego — tunnel vision ego versus the bigger portrait of this universe in my precious time here. That’s what matters.”
The rapper recently dropped off his latest studio LP, BEN, on March 3, 2023. BEN features guest appearances from DJ Premier, Jackson Lee Morgan, Morray, NLE Choppa, Sarah Barthel, Vic Daggs II, and more.