1. “Can’t Hold Us” (Live on KEXP)
Why this is awesome: This in-studio performance has Macklemore rapping alongside live violin and brass. At the end, the rapper takes a complete backseat and lets the gorgeous instrumental do the talking.
2. “Thrift Shop”
Why this is awesome: Their biggest hit so far has made the jump from viral hit to Top 40 radio, and it’s basically just them getting really, really excited about shopping for secondhand clothes.
3. Jabari Presents: “Macklemore and Ryan Lewis,” a Documentary
Why this is awesome: This relatively short documentary [15:20] is incredibly interesting and sheds some light on how Macklemore and Ryan Lewis found themselves thrust into the spotlight with their newest release, The Heist.
4. “Irish Celebration”
Why this is awesome: White guys rapping are hard to take seriously, and a white guy rapping about being Irish is scientifically proven to be the least cool thing ever. This song, though, has a strange personal twist to it and feels far less lame than it should.
5. “Thin Line”
Why this is awesome: This song doesn’t have a video and there aren’t any good live performances floating around, but it doesn’t matter. “Thin Line” sounds like Kid Cudi circa the A Kid Named Cudi mixtape, but with a chorus that’s surprisingly similar to Morrissey.
6. “My Oh My”
Why this is awesome: “My Oh My” is Macklemore’s tribute to baseball, and though you’d probably assume it’s corny, it’s actually got a very grounded sense of narrative that really pulls you in. And to make this song even more awesome, all od its proceeds went to the Boys and Girls Club.
7. “Same Love”
Why this is awesome: “Same Love” is a beautiful song with a gorgeous video and an amazing message. And unlike similar songs about civil rights issues, this hits a sentimental and fragile emotional core that feels as universal as it does specific.
8. A middle school teacher was suspended for playing “Same Love” in class.
Johnson said she allowed the song Same Love by the Seattle-based underground rapper Macklemore to be played during her eighth-grade class at Centennial Middle School in South Lyon at the request of a student.
Afterwards, however, another student went to the principal and complained about the song. Johnson was later informed that she would be suspended for three days, and she wouldn’t be paid for two.
And this was Macklemore’s amazing response.
I believe that Ms. Johnson getting suspended is completely out of line and unjust. However, I think it’s important for moments like these to be exposed and for us to pay attention and respond. This level of intolerance and fear is still very active in America, but at times is not completely visible. This incident is just one of tens of thousands that have happened across the country where schools have exposed a latent homophobia, preventing safe space for all young people to feel confident in being themselves. It’s clear that Ms. Johnson felt bullying and “gay bashing” were issues that needed to be addressed, and by doing so, was punished.
I wrote the song “Same Love,” not with the expectation that it would cure homophobia and lead to marriage equality across the US (although that’d be awesome). It was written with the hope that it would facilitate dialogue and through those conversations understanding and empathy would emerge. This incident demonstrates how too often we are quick to silence conversations that must be had. Even if people disagree, there is far more potential for progress when people are vocal and honestly expressing their thoughts about gay rights. When we are silent and avoid the issue, fear and hatred have a far greater life span.
It’s discouraging that a song about love and civil rights has led to a teacher getting suspended from her job. But that’s where we are at. For those of us who get a pit in our stomach when reading a story like this, it just makes it abundantly clear there is far more work to be done.
Why this is awesome: If you don’t know why this is awesome, then I don’t even know what to tell you.
9. “The Town” (Live on KEXP)
Why this is awesome: This is another track from Macklemore’s live performance on KEXP and it’s a fantastic, laid-back anthem dedicated to his hometown of Seattle. It also really nails the fascinating thing Macklemore’s lyrics can pull off, mixing conscious rap with ultra-melodic, really fun mainstream hip-hop.