Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Why Macklemore deserved the Grammy Aspiring rapper
After Macklemore and Ryan Lewis took home four Grammys in January, including, perhaps most controversially, the nod for “Best Rap Album,” music consumers across the country had a lot to say about it. Many people felt that the honor was unwarranted, especially given the fact that Macklemore was a newcomer to the rap game competing with established talents such as Kanye West and Jay-Z. But I’m here to encourage Macklemore to forget the haters, hold his platinum-blonde capped head high and know that he absolutely, unequivocally deserved that Grammy. He earned it. There was, dare I say, no one else more worthy than he. Let me explain. We can begin with the lyrical content of the champion rap album, “The Heist”. There’s just so much with which a listener can critically engage. In “White Walls,” for instance, the refrain has Macklemore repeatedly describing for us his late night joy ride: “I got that off-black Cadillac, midnight drive / Got that gas pedal, lean back, taking my time / I’m rollin' out, roof off, letting in sky / I shine, the city never looked so bright.” Pure poetry,
right? And don’t even get me started on the symbolism! Why is the Cadillac off-black? Is it reflective of Macklemore’s inner emotional uncertainty? His unfulfilled desires? His shortcomings? The possibilities are endless. Additionally, as an artist, Macklemore is particularly good at one
and personal benefits of secondhand shopping over the environmental and social impacts. Macklemore has gained a huge platform partly by exploiting his institutional privilege, and he should be able to utilize that power however he wants. If he wants to sing about nice cars, parties, and making serious bank, I think that’s great — even admirable. Anyway, it’s certainly not as if Macklemore’s entire album caters to one specific deWe don’t care about race relations or minority mographic — he voices very much — frankly, just writing this did write “Same sentence has made me super uncomfortable. Being Love” as a shoutout to the LGBTQ forced to confront societal problems before the beat community. And even drops just brings down the mood in the club.” statistics show that a white male ally is the best thing: making privileged white person to be the voice of the equalmales feel better about themselves ity movement. Catchy pop songs and allaying white guilt. And I have tangible benefits in the real think we need more of that in world struggle. In fact, according to popular culture. We need to keep one source, within a month of the telling rich hipster kids that they’re song’s release, there was a 30 percool and trendy — in fact, they’re cent increase in the number of adopractically rockstars who can take lescents that came out — many diclubs by storm — for shopping at rectly to their bullies, who accepted thrift stores. them with open arms because, well, It’s important to have chart-top- Macklemore said it was good idea. pers which emphasize the aesthetic Many teens who responded to the
survey admitted they had quoted Macklemore directly in their coming out speech. Making people feel good and making white men act less shitty than they have, you know, historically and consistently — these should be celebrated. Indeed, it should be more than
Ashley (A-shizzy) Sphinx
celebrated: it should be valued. It should be valued even more highly than artistic quality, lyrical innovation or thought-provoking social commentary. If we, as a culture, are going to endorse the idea that a person (or group of people) can judge
art in any type of objective fashion and assign it value through the means of an annual awards show, who’s to say that any one value system is superior to another? It seems our new standards involve commercial success and profit — and Macklemore should definitely be rewarded for conforming so well to those standards. Sure, it may be a fair assessment that songs like Kanye West’s “New Slaves” and Jay-Z’s “Picasso Baby,” which discuss modern manifestations of racism, have slightly more substance than the songs on Macklemore’s magnum opus. But we don’t care about race relations or minority voices very much — frankly, just writing this sentence has made me super uncomfortable. Being forced to confront societal problems before the beat even drops just brings down the mood in the club. As I think I’ve made abundantly clear, the conversation about the merits of Macklemore’s work should be over. I’d like to wish him hearty congratulations on his welldeserved Grammy, for he surely did produce the best rap album of 2013.
Ashley (A-shizzy) Sphinx is an aspiring rapper.
Life on the bottom Feminist
I’m a feminist and I hate being on top. I know, it’s tragic. Whenever I go out with my feminist friends, I’m always worried the conversation will get to that point where they complain about how their boyfriends/sort-of boyfriends/routine casual sex partners are so resistant to letting the woman take the reigns. They all look at me for my input, because I’m the only one in the group who hasn’t agreed with them yet, and I’m sitting there awkwardly, wondering if I should lie for the sake of retaining the friendship, or if I should tell the truth at the risk of being criticized. “What do you mean missionary is your favorite position? Don’t you know that every time a woman enjoys missionary sex, she’s encouraging the endurance of the patriarchy?” I got so tired of those kinds of questions. I began to tell lies —“Oh, of course…cowgirl 100 percent.” God forbid I ever relinquish even a little bit of control
over my orgasm. But I felt like ally just don’t understand…what I had to keep up the illusion. If do I do up here? I feel awkward I didn’t, they might stop invit- and overly exposed, and it’s not ing me to feminist book club a body confidence issue, I swear. and feminist movie night. No I am a lights on kind of girl. I way was I going to let them ex- just could not figure out why I clude me from viewing Joan couldn’t enjoy myself on top. I Cusack’s performance in “In read about a hundred Cosmo and Out,” followed by a discus- articles and scoured the internet sion of whether the institution for any advice I could find. “Try of marriage actually perpetuates reverse — you’ll have much more the systematic oppression of women. I know it’s so middle school, but I lied to retain my status in the “incrowd.” I told so Nobody wants to say missionary is their favorite many lies about position. It’s like saying vanilla is your favorite my sexual preferences that I flavor of ice cream or Coldplay is your favorite actually started band. Just like that, you become the most boring to believe them person at the party.” myself. But when it came down to the wire — bare- control.” “Keep your back arched ass naked skin on skin, slightly — you’ll be sure to hit the sweet tipsy with “John” (but I’m gonna spot.” But nothing worked. call you Ryan because you look So I gave up trying. I’ve fallen like Ryan Seacrest) who I just back on the default position that met at the bar tonight — in the apparently has been haunting moment when I would actually me ever since I lost my virginity try to make those lies reality, when I was seventeen. Nobody things just did not go well. I re- wants to say missionary is their
Kat S. Evergreen
favorite position. It’s like saying vanilla is your favorite flavor of ice cream or Coldplay is your favorite band. Just like that, you become the most boring person at the party. I’ve been doomed to a lifetime of lying whenever I’m in the hot seat during yet another game of Kings. To all of you who were looking for a truthful answer — I’m sorry. And to all of you who were looking for a more interesting answer when I did tell the truth — I’m sorry. Reactions from my sexual partners have been mixed. Some men are perfectly happy taking full control (and not just the ones who give you a weird look when you say you’re a feminist, like that might actually be a deal-breaker). But you might be surprised how many guys are genuinely disappointed. “Come on, just once get on top. I’ll show you what to do. Please, for me?” “Showing me what to do” got them a whole lot of something and me a whole lot of nothing. And of course, once Ryan Seacrest lookalike is finished he’s too tired even to help you. Like, come on, I just did you a huge favor. Isn’t this supposed to be a “you scratch my back,
I scratch yours” kind of thing? Funny how taking the option that was supposed to increase my personal sexual empowerment left me deeply sexually disappointed. Just one more reason I gave up on it. What am I left with at the end of the day? A recycling bin full of Cosmo magazines, a huge cloud of sexual frustration, and Joan Cusack. This isn’t exactly where I envisioned my life going. Who knows what happens from here? First I resign myself to a lifetime of missionary sex, then I end up binging on “Say Yes to the Dress” marathons, and before you know it I’m a soccer mom. Life can be a slippery slope like that. Luckily I’ve got an arsenal of feminist friends to remind me that every time you fake an orgasm, you’re making a political statement in favor of the patriarchy. Once I get to that point, that’s when you can start excluding me from feminist book club. We all need a wake-up call every now and then. Kat S. Evergreen is a feminist who is currently struggling with her political identity.