(Photo: The Source Magazine, January 2014)
With the Grammy Awards less than a month away, Macklemore is already casting his verbal ballot for the Best Rap Album trophy, and he doesn't think he should take the award home.
In his cover story for The Source magazine's "Man of the Year" issue out next week, the Seattle-bred rapper — up for seven awards with music partner Ryan Lewis — praises Kendrick Lamar's good kid m.a.a.d city as the Best Rap Album victor in his book. "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," Macklemore told Source Editor-in-Chief Kim Osorio. "In terms of [that category], I think it should go to Kendrick. I think it should go to Kendrick."
Apparently he and Lamar are closer than the public may realize. "He's family," Mack added. "TDE is family, and I understand why hip hop would feel like Kendrick got robbed [if he didn't win]."
Macklemore and Lewis's The Heist debut sold more than 1.2 million copies as of this month and earned them the same number of Grammy nods as Lamar, Justin Timberlake and Pharrell. Though the rap duo took home the Best Rap/Hip Hop album at the American Music Awards in November and a similar trophy during MTV's VMAs, Mack still doesn't believe the Grammy is his. "I'm not trying to compare albums, I think you can make an argument for both," he explained. "With that being said, I am a huge supporter of what Kendrick does. And because of that, I would love to win in a different category. We obviously had massive success on commercial radio, and I think that, in ways, The Heist was a bigger album, but Kendrick has a better rap album."
Speaking directly to critics who have taken issue with his and Ryan Lewis's pop-friendly rap tunes like "Thrift Shop," the rapper anticipates if he does win, the backlash will be real. "People are going to be skeptical. I'm a white dude from Seattle," he continued. "People are rightfully skeptical of white people making hip-hop. They're gonna say, 'Let me hear him rap. Let me hear an interview.' Before we sold a million copies of the album, when it was just 'Thrift Shop,' before it became massive, they were putting us in a box."
He blames the single. "The song almost got too big," he admitted. "People weren't able to see the rest of the album for what it was. They put us in the one-hit wonder box. And they didn't give the rest of the project room to live. People didn't do their research. If you strip away the Kidz Bop remake and it getting played on every radio station, the very core of 'Thrift Shop' is a hip-hop song. I'm rapping. I'm rapping, well. I'm spitting. The one-bar loop. The 808s. It was one of the more hip-hop-sounding songs on the album. It turned into something so big that the origin almost got lost. And because of that, it distracted people from the album and the content that was there."
Macklemore has wrestled with hip hop's love, or lack thereof, in the past. During a Rolling Stone interview he theorized that "Thrift Shop" wouldn't have even been successful were it not for his skin color.
Nonetheless, "music's biggest night" is anybody's game at this point. Jay Z leads the nominee list with nine nods, including Best Rap Album for Magna Carta Holy Grail. Also in the same category are Kanye West's Yeezus and Drake's Nothing Was the Same, making the competition for Grammy gold that much stiffer.
The 56th annual Grammy awards air Jan. 26.
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