Macklemore & Ryan Lewis swept the rap categories at the Grammy awards in Los Angeles yesterday, beating out Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Drake, A$AP Rocky and loads of others in three different categories.
Embarassingly for the Recording Academy, none of those awards were given out during the telecast, and were instead relegated to the pre-show ceremony. (Maybe they were afraid Kanye would win and cause a fuss.)
Still, a mini controversy was kicked up online over the idea that a white pop rapper would so easily have his way over other deserving African American nominees. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who played at both The Roots Picnic and Jay-Z's Made in America festival in Philaelphia last year, are clearly a hip-hop act, albeit one that raps about gay rights and thrift store shopping, and is hugely popular with little kids (of all races). And in history of Grammy foolishness - and on a night when a Led Zeppelin live album won best rock album over new work by Queens of the Stone Age, David Bowie, Kings of Leon and Neil Young - Macklemore's sweep hardly qualify as major faux pas. Nonetheless, a debate sprang up about the injustice and whether the Pacific Northwesterners belong in the rap categories in the first place, or whether they should be relegated to pop.
The Internet outrage was ready to peak when the Seattle duo took the best new artist trophy, and seemed poised to for a Grammy sweep that, it turned out, the French robot-headed dance music makers in Daft Punk and New Zealand teen queen Lorde would prevent from happening. Though after M & RL were joined by Trombone Shorty, singer Mary Lambert, Queen Latifah and cowgirl Madonna (who, as one wag put it, looked a whole lot like late Philadelphia children's performer Sally Starr) for a "Same Love" production number in which Latifah married 33 same sex couples on the spot, I was convinced that The Heist would take the album of the year gramophone. It ultimately went to to Daft Punk's Random Access Memories.
Still, Macklemore, whose given name is Ben Haggerty, evidently ended the evening feeling like a gulty liberal white guy, albeit one who had four new Grammys to put on his mantel, and had gotten paid for allowing his song "Can't Hold Us" tp be used in a TV commercial for online gambling in New Jersey. He took the unusual step of apologizing to Kendrick Lamar for beating out Lamar's good kid, M.A.A.D. City for the rap album prize. (Can we stop right here for one second and say that in a sane world neither of them should have won the best rap album prize in 2014? No, not because West's Yeezus was better. Because both albums came out in October 2012, and were still eligible to win this year, due to the Grammy's backdated eligibility system.)
Macklemore asked for forgiveness by texting Lamar personally. But rather than keeping his humility private, he made a public show of it, taking a screen shot of his phone, and posting it on his Instagram to his 2.6 million followers.
Here's what he said to Lamar:
"You got robbed. I wanted you to win. You should have. It's weird and sucks that I robbed you. I was gonna say that during the speech. Then the music started playing during my speech and I froze. Anyway, you know what it is. Congrats on this year and your music. Appreciate you as an artist and a friend. Much love"
Here's how he framed the issue for his followers:
My text to Kendrick after the show. He deserved best rap album... I'm honored and completely blown away to win anything much less 4 Grammys. But in that category, he should have won IMO. And that's taking nothing away from The Heist. Just giving GKMC it's proper respect.. With that being said, thank you to the fans. You're the reason we were on that stage tonight. And to play Same Love on that platform was a career highlight. The greatest honor of all. That's what this is about. Progress and art. Thank you. #grammys"
The M & RL "Same Love" performance is below, as is Lamar killing it with Imagine Dragons on "Radioactive."
No word yet from Kendrick - or the NSA - on what Lamar texted back to Macklemore.