Yeah, yeah yeah…. I will address the ‘elephant in the room’ before I finish my article on homophobia in hip-hop. I don’t want to talk about this track again.
Some would assume I would be praising this track as a milestone in progressive discussion regarding homosexuality.
I actually hate this track. It’s an absolute failure of a track.
While I believe that the track comes from positive intentions and did indeed fuel more discussion on homophobia in hip-hop, it absolutely fails at what it was intended to achieve. Homophobia in hip-hop is a very complex issue and one that needs to be handled with care. The track to me comes across as incredibly preachy and borderline racist.
If the track inspired you then more power to you. But in my honest opinion it’s a mess of a track.
The response from a large majority of the older members of the hip-hop community was negative as Macklemore himself fails to address his privilege as a straight white man in the music industry. Some criticism was definitely racist and homophobic (criticism from professional has-been big mouth Lord Jamar of Brand Nubian being the most infamous), though there were definitely a fair number of legitimate concerns (though sometimes covered in ignorance and lack of care for the gay community). There is a massive problem with tarring all members of the hip-hop community with the same brush as there are many rappers who are pro-gay rights and it can be safely assumed there are many rappers in the closet; afraid to come out.
Whilst there are huge issues regarding attitudes to homosexuality in hip-hop and indeed in the black community (I disagree with Kelly Fox at Guerilla Feminism on her suggestions that homophobia in the black community is a “myth”), the main problem with the track is that it simplifies the problem and directly points the finger at hip-hop. He looks for a scapegoat rather than analyse society as a whole. This is a move that can be perceived as pointing the finger at black people. Macklemore washes his hands of any privilege and doesn’t include himself in any critiques. Regardless of how fucked up homophobia in hip-hop is, the question is that “is Macklemore really in a position to start wagging his finger at black people?” The whole track feels like a middle class white man from the suburbs approaching a group of random black people whilst tutting his head in shame and screaming out “us white people are more moral than you animals. Shame on you”.
A massive issue also is his reckless use of the word “faggot”. He ignores that as a straight white man he is in no position to decide whether using those words is ok. It has a total disregard for the feelings of the people he is talking about in the first place! It reminds me of RA the Rugged Man’s (who I like to call RA the Republican Man) use of the word “nigga” in some of his tracks. What really gives him the right to use that word (another topic for another day)?
Regardless of all this I believe Macklemore’s actions were well intended, but poorly thought out. Same Love was a track that could have been an amazing critique and analysis of homophobia in the culture, but instead it fails.
How about the inclusion of gay rappers on the track? Giving them a voice? People who actually probably have first hand experience of homophobia and have a total lack of a voice in mainstream hip-hop media? Revolutionary idea eh?
Also I am unsure of how gay people will feel about the collab with Melle Mel in 2015. A man whose lyrics in the famous track The Message included: “Got sent up for a eight year bit. Now your manhood is took and you’re a Maytag. Spend the next two years as a undercover fag”. Whilst I see what he was trying to achieve (giving ‘legends’ the recognition and attention they deserve), it really is a case of practice what you preach. Is Macklemore really concerned about the gay struggle?