Macklemore is an unlikely rapper: he's from the Pacific Northwest, he's white, he's proud of wearing secondhand clothes. His single "Thrift Shop" recently topped the Billboard Hot 100, making him the first unsigned artist to do so in more than a decade.
But Macklemore first got attention for his support of gay marriage. "Same Love" came out of his frustration with hip-hop's misogyny and homophobia: "Those are the two acceptable means of oppression in hip-hop culture," he tells Kurt Andersen. "There needs to be some accountability. I think that as a society we're evolving and I think that hip-hop has always been a representation of what's going on in the world right now."
Does he think the song – and its viral video – helped sway Washington's recent referendum upholding gay marriage, Kurt Andersen wonders. "Yes, I do," he says.
When everyone elseIs more comfortableRemaining voicelessRather than fighting for humansThat have had their rights stolenI might not be the sameBut that's not importantNo freedom 'til we're equalDamn right I support it.
Macklemore began writing the song from the perspective of a gay 13-year-old, after his mother sent him an article about the boy's suicide. "I played it for my producer, Ryan Lewis," who told him "'You know what? This is good, but this isn't your story and you have a story.'" Macklemore has close gay relatives, and comes from an especially liberal corner of Seattle, but "I also come from the Catholic Church and the hip-hop community, which stereotypically are very homophobic communities," he tells Kurt.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' most recent album is The Heist.
(Originally aired: November 30, 2012)
Bonus Track: How Macklemore got his name
When Ben Haggerty was 17, he spent a summer in New York City. He made the trip to study art, but spent more time running around the city dressed in ridiculous thrift shop finds. In costume, he called himself Professor Macklemore, which he'd later shorten to his rap nom de plume.
Video: "Same Love"
Video: "Thrift Shop"