Last night, a wealthy young duke with a face gentle and soft like rolled-up sleeping bag shocked everyone by winning several Grammys for the art of rapping. His name was Macklemore, he hailed from a far-away, mystical land called Seattle (pronounced: "See-YAW-tehl") and he often wore fancy, intricate coats that made him look like a royal simpleton.
Macklemore was not the only artist nominated in the Grammys' rap categories, but he was the whitest and few other rappers this year had produced music with such similarly easy-to-digest messages as "I used to dislike gay people, but I've changed my mind. P.S. No homo." And so he won. He won and he won and he won again, even taking home the award for Best Rap Album.
But not all was well in Grammy land. An unsettling groan began creeping into the auditorium, starting on Twitter and quickly gathering speed. People were starting to realize that maybe — just maybe — Macklemore didn't deserve the awards. Maybe one of the other (more talented) rappers did.
Even Macklemore — sweet, simple Macklemore — was forced to agree. While he accepted the award with a cheery grin, something felt wrong. "Kendrick Lamar should have won," whispered a cruel voice, generated inside his own brain (or by the SeeYAWtehl sea witch, who can tell). "It should have been Keeeeeeeendrick."
Hours went by and Macklemore still couldn't shake the feeling that he had stolen something that didn't belong to him. He needed to make things right so he — no, he didn't turn down the Grammy or give it to who he thought deserved it more, but he did send Kendrick Lamar a nice text message saying that he felt bad about winning. And then he publicly posted the text message to Instagram — the very portrait of New World contrition. (If an apology isn't public and self-promoting, did it even happen?)
While poor Macklemore, his arms weighed down by Grammys, is doing everything he can to make things right, it does lead to an interesting question about what to do when you win something you know you're not deserving of or if you unintentionally become emblematic of a trend that you don't necessarily endorse (in this case, white artists winning awards for creating watered down versions of music that black people have been making better and for longer). Macklemore didn't cause the problem (it goes back long before Macklemore was born), but he is benefitting from it. So what can be done?
Ah, me! Heavy hangs the head that last night wore the crown. And so weeps the poor, dejected, white duke of rap.
Images via Getty.