On our annual band/choir trip to Chicago last spring, a bunch of my students had the same song on “repeat” on the iPods for the bulk of the trip. The catchy hook and somewhat clever lyrics were enough to pique my interest.
“What is this and why do you keep listening to it?” I asked one student.
The kids were all too eager to shout “THRIFT SHOP! MACKLEMORE!” at me. Naturally, I forgot about it for a few weeks before coming back to it.
But then I decided to buy the album, and came away very impressed. Macklemore is clearly a good creative mind, fiercely independent, and socially conscious. We’ve had socially conscious rappers before (NWA, anybody?), but not one so willing to explicitly call out his fellow hip-hop artists on their hypocrisy. In fact, I think Same Love will likely be remembered by history as a monumentally important song. After the first five seconds of BomBom, I slipped up and thought I was listening to a Steve Reich piece. Long story short, it’s an excellent album. Plus, the man has enough charisma to get the NPR offices up and on their feet.
So when the chance to snap up some tickets to see Macklemore and Ryan Lewis in Auburn Hills presented itself, I jumped on it. Previously, the closest I’d ever been to a hip-hop show was watching 8 Mile on a big screen TV. The concert was this past Saturday, and it was…an interesting experience, to say the least.
The fun started well before I even took my seat for the night. Here’s what I tweeted while I was still walking around the concourse.
At the Palace for the @ItsMacklemore concert. Don’t know who the opening act is but they sure sound angry.
— Joe Guarr (@jguarr) November 2, 2013
Turns out, the opening act was some guy named Big K.R.I.T. (not his Christian name, I’m guessing). Just about the time that the elderly usher showed us to our seats, which were right behind a family with a few young children (I’m guessing no older than second or third grade), Mr. K.R.I.T. shouts, “Middle fingers in the air! Shout it with me! F— these haters and f— these [gardening implements]!” Repeat, ad nauseam.
Now, maybe it’s because a 27-year old white guy who has only ever known life in the suburbs wasn’t his target demo, but I just started cracking up at the absurdity of the situation. Here’s a senior citizen leading me to my seat in the family section while the guy on stage is just screaming, well, you know.
Post-K.R.I.T., I was able to stop laughing and focus on the actual concert. Talib Kweli was opening act #2, and he did not disappoint. I’d wanted to see him ever since I was introduced to Blackstar back in college. He’s a fantastic talent, and it was definitely fun to see somebody whose creativity I’ve admired for years.
Macklemore’s portion of the show was great as well. All of the collaborators on The Heist were there. Wanz, Mary Lambert, Ray Dalton, etc. The crowd’s positive reception to Same Love was really touching to behold, especially as the battle for basic human rights for all continues to rage in parts of this country.
If you get a chance to get to one of his shows, I’d recommend it. Just leave the kindergartners at home.
The Trombonist’s Mouthpiece by Joe Guarr is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License