26 Nov 2012
A few months ago I was at a friends house after the bar. I was, as usual, playing dj with youtube for the background music. Since we were in an upbeat atmosphere, I put on my current favorite at the time: Macklemore, the hip hop artist I introduced you to a few months ago. One of the the fellow partygoers began immediately laying into me when he saw the video. ‘What is this garbage? Who is this Eminem-wannabe?’ he said. I, of course, laughed and gave him a well-deserved lecture about how I was pretty sure that the world was allowed more than one white rapper, and that race has about zero percent impact on why I would like a song. He was unmoved though, and said ‘Whatever. Dude will never amount to anything’.
Fast forward 6 months later. Macklemore is everywhere. He’s on Ellen, he’s on the radio and miraculously at the top of the iTunes charts. He’s did this being a completely independent artist; this album had no label, no distribution, nothing. And he somehow made it to the top of the charts for a week. Can I just draw your attention to how rare that is? To be an independent touring artist and sell that many copies of your first full length album is nothing short of extraordinary. He sold out his national tour and is finally getting the credit I think he’s always deserved.
One song off his album that has been getting a lot of attention is called ‘Same Love’ which is a song about being pro gay marriage. It details how the hip hop industry has always largely been homophobic and encourages people to make choices for others based on love. It’s remarkable because it’s rare for an adult male rapper to be so frank about this topic, and also because of the posistive response it’s garnered from his community. I’m so happy to have been right about him and to have been a witness to his success. And I’m even more happy to continue to follow his career, because in this success he’s managed to showcase a number of great artists.
Macklemore’s latest album, titled ‘The Heist’ features quite a number of other musicians. And while they all are great in their own way, I’m going to go ahead and give the gold star of the album to the amazing Ray Dalton. He features on the song I posted last time, ‘Can’t hold us down’, and his superb job on that track led me to check out his solo work, where he really shines. Ray is a classically trained gospel singer and this turned him into one of the most soulful male voices I’ve heard this year. His voice comes in on every track smooth as caramel; it reverberates joy in a way that can only come from someone who truly loves to sing.
There’s so much I miss about old soul music: The love, the richness, the simplicity of that sound that let emotion really shine through. Ray manages to do all of that in style. I’m so excited to keep my eye on him too and see what he does next. Who knows? Maybe someday Ray will feature someone on his album that I’ll be writing about right here. I can almost bet on it. Because that’s the gift of music, it just keeps on giving…..