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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 30 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 35
Not feeling the 'same love' - Openly Gay rapper accuses Macklemore of plagiarism
Arts & Entertainment
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Not feeling the 'same love' - Openly Gay rapper accuses Macklemore of plagiarism

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Macklemore's 'Same Love,' which won two MTV Video Music Awards last weekend, has been hailed as both a Gay rights anthem and a marriage equality anthem. But one openly Gay rapper does not share those sentiments.

'It saddens me out [sic] that a straight man is the voice pop music has chosen for Gay rights,' the artist Le1f said on Twitter, adding that Macklemore and his partner Ryan Lewis have 'blatantly' ripped off one of his songs.

Le1f has received critical acclaim for his self-released mixtapes but has not yet landed a major record deal. His comments finished a tirade he began on Monday morning, after the VMAs aired.

His tweets, which have been deleted from his account but preserved with screenshots, included:

o 'I'm gonna write a song about disabled people, or about the aboriginal struggle. cuz mama needs a new fur coat. oh wait, that's evil'

o 'news just in: gay people don't care about your video about gay people.'

o 'that time that straight white dude ripped off my song then made a video about gay interracial love and made a million dollars.'

o 'gay kids don't come out cuz of Macklemore vids. they come out to Bjork concerts YA DIG?'

In other tweets, Le1f questioned whether Gay rights organizations received any financial benefit from Macklemore's work. Macklemore and Lewis have, in fact, donated large amounts to the HRC and other groups, a fact Le1f later appeared to acknowledge.

'THRIFT SHOP' AT ISSUE
Macklemore and Lewis, both straight men from Seattle, scored a Billboard No. 1 spot with their single 'Thrift Shop,' and their independently produced debut album The Heist is on track to a reach Platinum certification in the U.S., having sold close to 1,000,000 copies.

'Thift Shop' debuted on U.S. charts on August 28, 2012, with a brassy hook reminiscent of Le1f's single 'Wut,' officially released on July 24, 2012.

Macklemore fans - pretty much all of Seattle - are obviously upset over the allegations.

Before 'Same Love' was even penned or recorded, Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, did not have a road to fame paved with gold. For 15 yeaers he played nightclubs, recorded and self-released The Language of My World in 2005, battled substance abuse, and more before anyone outside Seattle knew who he was, much less considered him a legitimate rapper.

A GAY ANTHEM IS BORN
Macklemore says he wanted to write a song about Gay rights, marriage equality, and homophobia in hip-hop, but didn't know how to do it. Lewis urged him to use a personal story.

'My dad's best friend was Gay. My barber was Gay. My uncles owned this restaurant that was a huge magnet for the Gay community. My whole upbringing was around Gay people,' Macklemore explained in an interview with the glossy Gay magazine Out.

Macklemore, who grew up Catholic, was questioning his sexuality by third grade. His mother reassured him that he was straight, but that period of confusion has stayed with him, he maintains.

The duo, known officially as Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, wrote and produced the song specifically to support same-sex marriage and approval of Washington state's marriage equality bill in early 2012, a bill that finally became law in November with the passage of Referendum 74. 'Same Love' became an Approve R-74 rallying cry.

On October 20, Macklemore, Lewis, and Lesbian singer-songwriter Mary Lambert performed the song on Ellen. Although it had not yet reached chart status, the song brought the audience to its feet.

SNL BREAKTHROUGH
After a rather slow upward (sometimes downward) curve for 'Same Love' on the U.S. chart (it took 14 weeks to crack Billboard's Top 40) people start to pay attention. Some credit the movement of sales after Macklemore and Lewis performed their hit 'Thrift Shop' on Saturday Night Live on March 2, a performance that drew 5.8 million viewers.

But it wasn't until the Supreme Court decisions against DOMA and Prop 8 that the song experienced a surge in popularity, and became known as the anthem for same-sex marriage.

The song has become so popular that Lambert, who provides vocals on the chorus of 'Same Love,' has now released 'She Keeps Me Warm,' which takes the chorus's lyrics and fashions it into a new track.

In his acceptance speech at the VMA's, Macklemore proclaimed, 'Gay rights are human rights - there is no separation.' The music video's win, he says, speaks to the amount of progress happening here in the United States.

The 'Same Love' YouTube video has been viewed more than 71 million times.

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