Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have generated much debate in hip-hop circles since the release of 2012’s The Heist. The Seattle-based duo became indie rap poster boys after their single “Thrift Shop” became a mainstream smash, but not everyone celebrated the pair’s success. The fact that they are white, that their hit “Same Love” championed LGBT relationships and whether or not they deserve their “indie” tag have been points of contention, but revered Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli says that contempt for the duo is misguided.
“Macklemore is an incredible artist,” Kweli told HipHopDX. “He draws people in in a way that a lot of artists can’t. And Ryan Lewis recognized that. And they did an album that resonated with people. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are gonna get hated on because they’re so big. They’re bigger than everything right now, but the way they did it was so organic, that if you know how it happened, even if you’re not a fan of them, you can’t hate on them.
“Everything that people say people should do, rather than deal with big corporations, these guys did,” Kweli continues. “So it’s ironic people hating on them as sort of the symbol of corporate music business excess. That’s what people see them as who are ignorant. But they’re the opposite of that. They’re your heroes and you don’t even know it. Whether or not you like ‘Thrift Shop,’ whether or not you like ‘Same Love,’ is irrelevant. Look at the business model. Look at what they’ve done for independent artists.”
“People always ask me what I could teach new artists,” he added. “New artists teach me all the time. I learn so much from new artists that I work with. Macklemore [came] up after me, and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis [got] together to show me a new way to do it.”