In Defense of Macklemore

Okay.  I just had to address this.

I follow The Daily Swarm on Twitter, and yesterday (Jan 28th), they tweeted this article about a Brooklyn DJ’s thoughts on Macklemore, with specific regard to his dislike of “Thrift Shop”.  It appears that Skinny Friedman was inspired to voice his thoughts after reading this even more opinionated article by Brandon Soderberg.

A few disclaimers before I begin:

  1. I have no qualms with the people who legitimately do not prefer Macklemore’s style (or rap music in general).  People have different tastes in music, and that’s fine.
  2. I completely understand if people do not like “Thrift Shop” specifically, or if they are getting sick of it being played 23x a day on every radio station (even though I, personally, am not one of those people—I crank up the volume every time).

That being said, the reason I am all up in arms is because these articles reek of ignorance.  Both authors very clearly missed the point, and have quite obviously done zero research on Macklemore and his music.  Even though Skinny admits that “Macklemore is a legitimate, self-made indie success story,” he does not feel like Macklemore is “an artist who will be around for the foreseeable future” simply because his first hit was a funny song.

Oh...right...

Right, because that’s never worked out for anyone before.

I might have been able to let that go, but then he said that “Rappers don’t break through to the mainstream with chart-topping singles; if they even have one, it usually the result of months or even years of buzz, local singles and popular tapes.”

This statement blows my mind because a simple Google search will show you that this is not Macklemore’s first song.  He has been working hard for over 12 years to try and make it by doing what he loves.  Before “Thrift Shop” went viral, he already had a sizable following of people who had been listening to and loving his earlier pieces.

Another flaw in Skinny’s article arises when he claims that Macklemore’s work “wasn’t aimed at people who like rap”.  Dear sir, what are you talking about?  Macklemore has a lot of other work out there, and if you had listened to any of his other songs, you might have made a different judgment call.  It just seems a little foolish to have done so little homework on this artist before judging him so openly and harshly on a site that was bound to get a fair amount of traffic.

Aside from that, “Thrift Shop” was not created with the intent of going viral and making a mockery of his genre.  No, it is something quite different.  Comedic personality Matthew Inman notes in his latest comic that he “paint[s] portraits of fiction, sometimes to cope, sometimes to escape, and sometimes just because it makes [him] happier” because he has “found the best way to deal with terrible things is to tell funny stories”.

Sometimes the most hilarious people lead the most difficult lives.

Sometimes the most hilarious people lead the most painful lives.

If Skinny had listened to almost any of Macklemore’s other songs, he would have quickly learned about Macklemore’s reoccurring battle with drugs, or about how Macklemore has watched drugs take the lives of several of his friends.

Getting back to “Thrift Shop”—this song was not created to mock second-hand stores or turn it into a cool fad for rich white kids (I’m looking at you now too, Brandon).  Brandon’s article boasts that Macklemore’s hit “stinks of privilege”.  What privilege?  He has been shopping in thrift stores his whole life (which discredits a solid 50% of Soderberg’s article).  Soderberg’s lack of research far surpasses Skinny’s, too.  He took offense to Macklemore’s song, claiming that “he pitches his vocal down to sound like a black dude”.  That might hold some weight, except that it features Wanz…and it says so right in title of the song.

How dare he sound like a black guy!

How dare he sound like a black dude!

Conclusion: Before you go trying to bash artists, at least look up the very song you’re directing your hate towards.  Then, conduct a basic Google search.  Maybe then you can avoid being so painfully misdirected.  Long live Macklemore—the man is doing some great work.  And as a final note to everyone, do yourselves a favor—listen to the entirety of Macklemore’s latest album.

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Ring The Alarm? Some Thoughts on Queen Bey

As everyone knows, Beyonce graced the nation with her presence during Obama’s second inauguration.  We loved it.

You wish you were this flawless.

You wish you were this flawless.

But then the unthinkable happened.  Rumors started being spread that our Queen lip-synced!  News sources all over the world started buzzing and speculating, wondering how this would affect her career and her image.  The media took such issue with whether she did or did not record her voice in advance for the inauguration that Obama and his speech kind of took a back seat to “Beyoncé-gate”.  It even permeated education systems.  In my PR Strategies class, we spent a few minutes discussing what Obama had to say.  However, we spent a solid 10-15 minutes hashing out the Beyoncé situation, discussing potential ways to resolve this “crisis” and debating if this even qualified as a crisis.

While the Beyoncé buzz developed a sizable amount of hype, the public actually seemed to be having the same reaction as Alica Keys: Why does it matter?  We all know that Beyoncé can sing.  As a dedicated lover of all things related to the wife of Jay-Z, I read every article I could find about this situation.  I also read what people were saying in the comments section.  Without doing actual math, I’d guesstimate that about 83.24% of the comments mirrored the same sentiments as Ms. Keys.

What's that? Something about me lip-syncing? Oh, I'm sorry.  I can't hear you over the sound of my NUMEROUS GRAMMYS.

What’s that? Something about me lip-syncing? Oh, I’m sorry. I can’t hear you over the sound of my NUMEROUS GRAMMYS.

So then, is this a crisis?  There seems to be an air of nonchalance in the room.  Bey’s reputation does not appear to be tarnished (unlike that of poor Ashlee Simpson or Milli Vanilli).  Even the media has moved on to speculate about her next very public performance, and many of the sources aren’t even hinting at Monday’s festivities when they bring her name up.  Does she need to issue a public statement?  Should a PR rep say something for her?  Or should she just keep quiet and let her upcoming Super Bowl performance distract the naysayers?  Can the former Destiny’s Child star just get away with anything?

In my opinion, she’s fine and should just let it go.  Beyoncé has built such a solid image for her and her music that it would take something significantly more scandalous for the public to legitimately turn on her.

But, let’s face it: I doubt Queen Bey could ever be dethroned.

The Last First Day

Never again will I wake up and prepare for the first day of the semester! It’s an odd feeling.  In just a few months, I will wrap up my undergraduate career with a degree in communication studies (and minors in PR and English Lit!).  Ideally, I’ll also have a job in an agency in the Milwaukee area.  I will then move to what I hope will be Shorewood and start making money and paying off the $80,000 of debt that I gathered during five years of higher education.

Five years.

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been five years since I graduated from high school.  As cliché as it is, it truly feels like just a few months ago I was an eager 17-year-old moving into the dorms at UW-Madison.  I remember how excited I felt that day—thrilled at all the possibilities the next few years held for me.  Ever since I was a young girl, I knew I wanted to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Fortunately for me, I got accepted—and not only did I get accepted, a large chunk of my friends from varying cliques (West Allis, Figure Skating, Port Washington, etc…)  had also gotten accepted.  Itching to leave the nest and experience a new town and a new-found sense of freedom, it seemed like that move-in day could not come soon enough.

May 2008: The future Badgers among DSHA’s Senior class

Little did I know, most of the things I learned in college had nothing to do with the classes I took.  In fact, most of the things I learned in college were from my peers.  College students are fascinating case studies.  Every person I ran into taught me something new about human interaction.  When I took the required Philosophy courses at Marquette, I realized I already knew what the TA was teaching us.  Each type of philosophical ideal matched a person (or the decisions of a person) I met at UW.  Stoicism, Feminism, Hedonism, Utilitarianism, Nihilism, Existentialism, and more. I loved talking to people, whether at parties, over lunch, during study sessions, at work, while watching TV…whatever.  Picking their brains and getting to know them—why they think and behave the way they do—and hearing them communicate about themselves and their circumstances, was more fascinating and revealing than any lecture I attended. I wish there was a way to explain it in a few words on a resume. In spite of my inability to use my ever-increasing knowledge of behavioral patterns/types as a resume enhancer, I absolutely do not regret investing so much time honing my abilities in that area.  In fact, I truly do not regret anything I’ve done in college.  Each of my experiences taught me something, whether it was good or bad.

I had to laugh a little at how nostalgic I was feeling as I wrapped up my last first day (and first week) of this chapter in my life.  Graduation is months away, yet I already feel like my “college experience” has ended.  Perhaps it’s because nothing seems new anymore.  Perhaps it’s because I have to spend this time focusing on the future, as opposed to the present.  Perhaps it’s because so many of my friends are getting married/engaged and getting “real” jobs.  Whatever the case may be, I decided to go through and reflect on all of the old photos I have from the last 4.5 years and share some of my favorites.  Oh, college.  What a crazy time you’ve been.

Skated with UW's senior synchronized skating team at Nationals

Skated with UW’s senior synchronized skating team at Nationals during my freshman year.

Unnecessarily camped out in a tent on a bitterly cold night for the release of The Dark Knight for my 18th birthday in Madison.  We're weird.

Unnecessarily camped out in a tent on a bitterly cold night for the release of The Dark Knight for my 18th birthday in Madison. We’re weird.

Rainbow meets Lara Croft!

Rainbow met Lara Croft during my sophomore year Halloween! They’re still good friends to this day.

Went through that rebellious teenager stage a little late in life during my sophomore year.

Went through that rebellious teenager stage a little late in life during my sophomore year.

Joined the Nationally ranked UW Freestyle team during my sophomore year!

Joined the Nationally ranked UW Freestyle team!

Of course, I went to a lot of concerts.

Of course, I went to a lot of concerts.

Seriously, a lot of concerts (Can you find me? I'm on the left in the middle-ish.)

Seriously, a lot of concerts (Can you find me? I’m on the left in the middle-ish.)

Rang in several holidays with great friends, like at this 4th of July party.

Began a relationship with the best man I've ever met—Junior year.

Began a relationship with the best man I’ve ever met—Junior year.

Transferred to Marquette, moved back to Milwaukee, and began to re-experience the city.

Transferred to Marquette, moved back to Milwaukee, and began to re-experience the city.

Went to my first Packer game! They won, of course.

Went to my first Packer game! They won, of course.

Skated with my Canadian pen pal—she's a World Silver Medalist too, no big.

Skated with my Canadian pen pal—she’s a World Silver Medalist too, no big.

Saw a lot of great things happen to others, too. Adam graduated and got a job right away in his field—end of my Junior year.

Saw a lot of great things happen to others. Adam graduated and got a job right away in his field.

My little sister even graduated from high school this past summer!

My little sister even graduated from high school!

A childhood friend of mine got married.

A childhood friend of mine got married.

And my best friend got engaged!!

And my best friend got engaged this past fall!!