Exclusive: Macklemore Is The Source’s Man Of The Year

Macklemore addresses Grammy competition with Kendrick Lamar and anti-hip-hop criticism in The Source's January cover story.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis capped off a monster year with an astounding seven Grammy nominations and more than 13 million in sales from The Heist. It makes sense, then, that the 30-year-old Seattle rapper covers The Source’s January issue as Man of the Year. MTV News has the exclusive cover reveal along with quotes from the story.

The “Same Love” rapper is well aware of some of the tensions that might surface on Grammy night, where he’s matched up against Kendrick Lamar in major categories like Best New Artist and Best Rap Album. When asked how it would feel to take home an award for Best Rap Album and invoke the wrath of the ever outspoken Kanye West, he admits that it could be justified.

“Then he’s got a point. [In the Best Rap Album category], we’re up against Kendrick, who made a phenomenal album. If we win a Grammy for Best Rap Album, hip-hop is going to be heated,” Macklemore told The Source.

“In terms of [that category], I think it should go to Kendrick. He’s family. TDE is family, and I understand why Hip-Hop would feel like Kendrick got robbed [if he didn’t win]. I’m not trying to compare albums; I think you can make an argument for both. With that being said, I am a huge supporter of what Kendrick does. And because of that, I would love to win in a different category. We obviously had massive success on commercial radio, and I think that, in ways, The Heist was a bigger album, but Kendrick has a better rap album.”

This wouldn’t be the first time Macklemore has heard criticisms that his music doesn’t fall under the hip-hop umbrella, but he isn’t buying into it.

“People are going to be skeptical. I’m a white dude from Seattle. People are rightfully skeptical of white people making hip-hop. They’re gonna say, ’Let me hear him rap. Let me hear an interview.’ Before we sold a million copies of the album, when it was just ’Thrift Shop,’ before it became massive, they were putting us in a box,” he explained. “The song almost got too big. People weren’t able to see the rest of the album for what it was. They put us in the one-hit wonder box. And they didn’t give the rest of the project room to live. People didn’t do their research.

“If you strip away the Kidz Bop remake and it getting played on every radio station, the very core of ’Thrift Shop’ is a Hip-Hop song,” he continued. “I’m rapping. I’m rapping, well. I’m spitting. The one-bar loop. The 808s. It was one of the more hip-hop-sounding songs on the album. It turned into something so big that the origin almost got lost. And because of that, it distracted people from the album and the content that was there.”

“In general, ’Thrift Shop’ was well received by the hip-hop community,” he adds. “When it first came out on the rap blogs and sh–, rap blogs f—ed with it. The comment sections f—ed with it, everyone thought it was dope. Kanye told me the first time that he heard it on the radio, he was in L.A., and he was listening to it in his car. He said he turned it the f— up and said, ’This dude is about to be famous.’

“By the time that it had sold a million copies, it was played out. Seven million,” he continued. “No one wants to hear it anymore. The masses beat it to death. I never thought I would have a song like that. That’s the gift and the curse of radio.”

And for those that still argue that The Heist is not a hip-hop album, well…

“I think that it’s people that are stuck in a certain mentality, that aren’t willing to grow and evolve with hip-hop music, that doubt. The first place that some of the criticism will go is the white boy came in and f—ed up hip-hop. But if you take the race thing out, the success at pop, the varying degrees of parents letting their kids listen to it, you cannot deny the quality of the music.”

With all the success he’s seen in the past year, which included two MTV VMAs wins for “Best Hip Hop Video” and “Best Video With A Social Message” for “Same Love,” Macklemore maintains that he and his producer Ryan Lewis still have no plans of signing to a major label.

I always used to say, “My goal is I want to be on G.O.O.D. Music.” That would be my ideal. But I think that, you know, I could work with Kanye without having to sign to G.O.O.D. Music. I want to build my own G.O.O.D. Music. You have people that are bosses and at the heads of the table. Ryan and I have built something that puts us in the position to be a boss. Sorry to sound like Rick Ross and sh–, but really I just want to be at the helm of what we create. I don’t want someone overseeing it.”

The Source’s January issue is available on newsstands now.

A native of Grenada, a product of Brooklyn, a student of hip-hop.
@neweryork