Macklemore’s “Same Love” important for hip-hop/rap

Check out Macklemore’s song “Same Love” featuring Mary Lambert, if you haven’t already:

First off, I would highly recommend watching the music video instead of merely listening to the lyrics, if you have the chance. I found it quite beautiful and woven in together nicely with the lyrics.

I had actually heard this song due to a friend a few months ago and I recall enjoying it, but for whatever reason, it went back to “flying under the radar” for me. Then recently, another friend was talking about listening to it and I decided to give it another listen myself. And boy, I was kicking myself for not having paid more attention before.

Some may be thinking, “It’s 2013, many states have legalized gay marriage, the President has come out in support of it; a song about gay marriage and homosexuality isn’t exactly groundbreaking anymore.” There may be some merit to that argument in other mediums, but with respect to music and especially hip-hop/rap specifically? This song is incredibly important and significant.

Even in rap I listen to, I still hear “faggot” and other derogatory language aimed at homosexuals (and women too) tossed about whimsically. I agree with Macklemore when he said, speaking to rap’s homophobia and misogyny, “Those are the two acceptable means of oppression in hip-hop culture. There needs to be some accountability. I think that as a society we’re evolving and I think that hip-hop has always been a representation of what’s going on in the world right now.”

He’s right. The component that I’ve always gravitated towards when it comes to hip-hop/rap is how it’s a reflection upon the happenings in society; for me, that’s what makes it real, honest and authentic. Much of the rap that features the homophobia, misogyny, bragging about doing drugs or making money is not the type of hip-hop/rap music that interests me.

For a rapper, like Macklemore, to come out and essentially condemn the hip-hop/rap culture in a meaningful and poignant way is huge. Will the culture change overnight? Of course not, but it’s a step in the right direction. If more and more rappers come forward with support of homosexuality and stop using pointless and derogatory language, then that’s awesome. Moreover, if they start a dialogue about the treatment of women in that culture, then the better because it’s not just a homosexual issue or a women’s issue; it’s a human equality issue.

Now, let’s get into some of these potent lyrics.

The first ten lines of the song are talking about the preconceptions of what “being gay” is. Many have this notion of the characteristics that comprise a gay person; likewise, there’s charactertistics that supposedly define a straight person; or more to the point, there’s some arbitrary line between what’s considered a “heterosexual man” and a “homosexual man.” There is no difference. A homosexual man can be just as much a man as a heterosexual man.

Then I particularly like this line:

The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision, and you can be cured with some treatment and religion; Man-made rewiring of a predisposition, playing God, aw nah here we go.

And this isn’t simply people saying that gay is a choice; there’s actual “pray the gay away” camps and so forth. You’re born gay, same as you are born heterosexual. If someone thinks otherwise, do a simple thought experiment: when did you decide that you liked boys/girls? Moreover, the idea of “playing God” is an interesting one. Even if you thought homosexuality went against God, isn’t that judgment better left up to God?

America the brave still fears what we don’t know and God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten, but we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago; I don’t know.

Whether we’re discussing homosexuality, race, immigrants or the like, Americans have a long history of fearing that which we don’t know. Certainly, that’s not a mere American issue, as it’s a human one, but, still, in many ways, our laws reflect that attitude more than other Western countries. And to continue to reiterate the point, wouldn’t a loving God love any of his creation regardless of sexual orientation? It seems oddly human to ascribe a dislike of homosexuality to a godly being, especially one thought to be a loving being.

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me. Have you read the YouTube comments lately?

From this line on for the next few, he really starts going after the hip-hop/rap culture for their attitudes towards gays. And those lines are precisely why this song, musically, is so significant. When artists get meta about that which they are a part of, I dig it because insight is sure to come. Besides, it’s always worthwhile to examine from within and see what is right and what is wrong about it therein.

A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are. And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all, but it’s a damn good place to start.

As someone very passionate about the issue of suicide and someone that is particularly burned up about homosexual who commit suicide (because of social stigma and more sadly, from unaccepting parents – parents whom are supposed to be the bastion of unconditional love), I found this line to be the most poignant of the song. I’m glad he recognized the plain truth and expressed it to the world: there is so much hate, stigma and misunderstanding in the world that some people, unfortunately, feel the need to kill themselves simply because they don’t feel comfortable in their own skin as the person they are. That’s a human tragedy to me. Furthermore, yeah, he’s right, gay marriage isn’t going to be a panacea for solving the issue of homophobia, but it’s a nice start, which is why…

No law is gonna change us; we have to change us.

This is such a simple, but beautifully accurate message. All fifty states could recognize gay marriage, which would be indicative of a considerable swath of people’s acceptance of gay marriage, but laws are not enough. As is always the case, whether we’re talking the Civil Rights movement, women’s rights, or gay rights, laws are necessary to change existing poor laws or ensure equality under the law, but socially and culturally, it comes down to individuals to change.

And maybe, just maybe, Macklemore has made some headway with this important song. Plus, the strong message, the potent lyrics, the beautiful music video aside; it’s a very listenable song with good, serious flow from Macklemore and a stunning chorus from Mary Lambert.


2 thoughts

  1. Imma let you finish but… Kanye came out against homophobia a decade before anyone heard of Macklemore. People just don’t pay attention unless a White person is speaking.


    1. It’s a fair point to say Macklemore wasn’t the first. I wasn’t paying attention, however, because I don’t listen to that much hip hop, including Kanye, although I’ve been trying to give his latest album a listen.


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