October 27, 2012 at 9:00 AM
Referendum 74 finds an unlikely champion in hip-hop’s Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
A Washington State hip-hop artist bucks stereotypes by making music in support of marriage equality and Referendum 74.
SEATTLE — Hip-hop is not generally considered a bastion of progressive virtue. Despite the boundaries and expansion spurred by the hip-hop movement over the past 30+ years, the general content is still enough to make the most foul-mouthed bigot blush.
The socially conscious rap groups who have achieved some level of national prominence can be counted on one hand: A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, The Black Eyed Peas (pre-Fergie), Lupe Fiasco — each person has their own personal list. Arguments can be made for other more mainstream rap acts—Jay-Z comes to mind—but the general trend towards sexism and homophobia persists, giving critics ample ammunition to disparage the entire art form.
Out of this background come Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
While the Referendum 74 battle over marriage equality rages in Washington State, this MC-Producer duo created an unlikely anthem for the pro-74 crowd. “Same Love” meditates on hip-hop’s attitude toward homosexuality, while also making some strong statements about the issue. Macklemore’s lyrics speak from his own experiences with a gay uncle and his own early considerations of his own sexuality, while Mary Lambert’s soaring chorus grants significant pathos to the message.
Macklemore, aka Seattle’s Ben Haggerty, has been outspoken in his support of the R-74 bill.
“My hope is that my personal testimony can help in some way to not only advance the dialogue and approve Referendum 74, but also to help shape a culture of belonging in which all people are equal,” Macklemore wrote on his website when the song was released.
The song has already made the rounds nationally. The Huffington Post toasted the feature-quality music video on its site, as has MTV’s Buzzworthy blog. Apple’s iTunes audience has shown love to the entire album making it the most downloaded album in its first week of release, helping the Seattle duo to debut #2 on the Billboard 200—no small feat for an independent act of any genre.
Watch the music video here: