Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Almost Shut Out of Rap Grammys

Debates rose over Seattle duo's rap credentials. 

Posted: 01/24/2014 10:20 AM EST
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Not everyone considers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis a rap or hip hop act. Despite the awards they've racked up in various rap and hip hop categories, the Seattle-bred duo's road to seven Grammy nominations almost hit a snag.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Grammy committee members debated over adding them to rap categories. The majority of voters moved to shut them out of rap slots during a meeting late last year, a source revealed. At a second meeting held a week later, committee members discussed the group's inclusion into the rap arena, ultimately deciding that they qualified.

"Because of the controversy with them as a rap group it became something the entire Grammy committee discussed," the insider said. 

Mack and Lewis have sold millions over the last year. Their "Thrift Shop" single pushed over seven million units and earned Grammy nods in the Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song categories.

That said, the song also topped Billboard's pop charts.

Manager Zach Quillen doesn't see a need for debate. "If you strip away being influenced by the popularity or by who their fans are or by the amount of radio traction their songs got ... and just dissect musically what it is, there's no question it's a hip hop album; they're hip hop songs," Quillen said. "When you start to look at other things [that] is when people's judgment got cloudy. It's what they look like, the demographic, the fan base, it's the popularity, it's the radio."

"Perception can be very powerful," he added. "And the thing Ben and Ryan are messing with is perception and people's desire to put things in boxes."

Macklemore, who started rapping at the age of 14, has named Lil Wayne as one of his influences. At the Grammy nomination concert last month, he was honored just to be recognized, telling BET.com"There's no greater award than the Grammy … to be here tonight, to be nominated for anything, is pretty mind blowing." 

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 (Photo: Ari Perilstein/Getty Images)

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