It was about three months ago, in the midst of summer, while I was driving to my internship in Hollywood at Capitol Records. It was nine in the morning but the sun was already blazing, I was late and I had to get gas. $3.98 for a gallon. I was pissed, coffee in hand and not in the mood to listen to Top 40s or anything too peppy on my way to work.
I turned on 98.7, a typically rock/indie station and drove down Rose Avenue in Venice en route to Hollywood. It was one of those rare moments when you randomly turn to a new station just as a song is about to begin. They introduced it as a young, unsigned artist out of Seattle who had just released a song about gay rights. I was intrigued.
The opening was long, a kind of misty sound with faint piano and chimes. Then the piano grew and the intro started, and the voice I heard through my speakers was calm, pronounced, sexy. The first line "When I was in the third grade, I thought that I was gay."
The song continued with the artist, Macklemore, explaining why at eight years old he had these thoughts. How he actually wasn't gay but at such a young age it was a confusing, misunderstood, misjudged thought.
Featured in the song is Mary Lambert who sings a beautiful hook about how her lover keeps her strong and warm. Macklemore enters again "If I were gay I would think hip-hop hates me." His raps smoothly come in and out between piano riffs, a light beat and Lambert's hook.
"I might not be the same, but that's not important. No freedom til we're equal, damn right I support it."
That one line got me obsessed. The song ends with an insurgence of a brassy trumpet solo and Lambert's hook again. Beautifully written, beautifully stated. I got to work, at a record company, with plenty of amazing artists and CDs to listen to. But, I listened to his song "Same Love" on repeat for 8 hours. I looked up other songs and became instantly obsessed.
I found Macklemore's, born Ben Haggerty, Tumblr and followed that and his Instagram. It said he was going on tour soon so I looked up when he would be in LA. Not until October. But he would be in Boston in November. I emailed my friend his songs and she was hooked, too. We bought tickets right away - a small price for the amount of excitement and thrill we had. It was like knowing a musical secret that would eventually be shared with everyone in the world. The type of secret you're proud to share.
Yesterday Macklemore released his first official album, The Heist. Immediately it became #1 on the iTunes new album charts. Macklemore is unsigned to a major label, and proud of it, as you can hear in his song "Jimmy Lovine." He ends the song with: "I appreciate the offer, thought this was what I wanted/ Rather be a starving artist than succeed at getting f****ed."
Gay rights, musicians rights, this guy knows what he's talking about. But there are countless tracks on The Heist album that are just plain fun to listen to. "Thrift Shop" is all about his love for Good Will and wearing people's grandparent's clothing. Then there's "Cowboy Boots" a country-esque song dedicated to drinking, aging, friends and memories.
So, the point of this post: Buy the album. Be a part of the growth of a truly amazing artist for our generation. Finally, something worth listening to.