Are Critics Using Macklemore to ‘Gentrify’ Hip-Hop?

Macklemore was one of the biggest names in last week's Grammy nominations.

By Jamilah King Dec 16, 2013

Macklemore was one of the biggest names in last week’s Grammy nominations, a fact that’s led plenty of people to dissect the success of his amazingly successful album with Ryan Lewis, "The Heist." But the rapper who, let’s be honest, is really good at his craft, can’t escape his whiteness and all that he represents. And he’s not trying to. Earlier this year he explained some of his success to Rolling Stone, saying, "I’m a white guy, parents feel safe around me."

But David Dennis over at the Guardian put forth a provocative argument over the weekend noting that some observers are using Macklemore’s success against hip-hop and the scores of artists of color who perform it. Dennis points to a recent conert review in the Dallas Morning News that laments the fact that a politically progressive artist like Macklemore didn’t get mainstream recognition 25 years ago. 

Dennis writes:

At his core, Macklemore is a rapper, and a pretty good one at that. He’s also a hard-working MC who has hustled for close to a decade to get where he is now, setting the stage for wildly successful (and rich) independent musicians going forward. However, thanks to anti-hip-hop posturing and shallow-minded generalizations, Macklemore is being used as an example of ground-breaking "civility" for rap. A pseudo-gentrification that undermines decades of artistry hip-hop culture has provided.

Dennis is careful to point out that it’s not Macklemore’s doing, but rather the way that he’s being used by some white critics who are already critical of hip-hop culture. Read more at the Guardian.