Talib Kweli Says Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' Independent Success Is The "Story Of The Year"

The emcee says "we should be paying attention to the blueprint Macklemore & Ryan Lewis set up, rather than the racial overtones of them winning a Grammy."

Appearing as a guest on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show, Talib Kweli recently spoke about Macklemore’s big win for Best Rap Album at this year’s Grammy Awards.

With the segment launched on a reference to a young Pop star’s involvement in Black culture, Kweli joked about his own expertise. “I thought you were about to ask me about [Justin] Bieber,” he said, “I was getting scared.”

Discussing the racial significance of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ recent Grammy win, Talib appealed to his personal and professional relationship with the Seattle artists during his explanation.

“I’m uniquely qualified to speak on Macklemore in Hip Hop because Macklemore & Ryan Lewis graciously took me on their tour,” he said. “We did forty dates, sold out, everywhere. Macklemore told me when he was first nominated for the Grammy, ‘I might win, and that’s going to be a problem.’ You mentioned the word ‘White Privilege’ has become a buzzword for Liberals and forward-thinking people. Macklemore, when he was going by the name Professor Macklemore, has a record called ‘White Privilege.’ That’s actually the name of the song, and he deals directly with him and Eminem, and he deals with White privilege head on in a more honest way than I’ve ever heard any White artist deal with.”

Macklemore’s song “White Privilege,” which appeared on his 2005 solo debut, The Language of My World, is available below.

Referencing the much-discussed post-Grammy text message to Kendrick Lamar, Talib Kweli added that Macklemore seems to “realize his position.” “Some people think that his text to Kendrick was corny, some people think his text to Kendrick was completely sincere, but I see it as an artist who realizes his position in this culture, and is doing everything in his power that he can do,” he said. “You know, he can’t not be White.

“I think that when you look at the something on the scale of the Grammy’s, anyone who’s shocked at the Grammy’s going to the most popular White rapper of the day, I got a bridge to sell you,” Kweli joked. “The Grammy’s have been extremely consistent, the last time the Grammy’s surprised me is when they gave Herbie Hancock an award. The Grammy’s have been extremely consistent in appealing to mainstream, which another word for that is White America. And Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ album appealed to mainstream America way more than Kendrick Lamar’s. But it shows ignorance about Hip Hop as a culture for the Grammy’s to make that decision so cluelessly.”

Talib Kweli Describes Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' Independent Status

Referencing “general consensus” within the Hip Hop community, Kweli added that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ commercial success shouldn’t be looked at as a negative.

“I think everybody was shocked that Macklemore got it this year,” the Gravitas rapper said. “I think the general consensus in Hip Hop is that Kendrick Lamar had the best album of the year. And, if that’s not the consensus, people feel like the Drake album, the Kanye album, the Jay Z album, were all better than The Heist. And more authentic, that’s the general consensus. But that doesn’t take anything away from what Macklemore does or what his audience that has supported him has done. Because his fans and his consumers put him in that position. He reached out to his audience and the people voted with their dollars. I think that it speaks to the same type of ignorance that allows Bill O’Reilly to call Kanye West a gangster rapper. By separating it, even Kanye has plenty of Grammy’s, too.”

At the end of the segment, Kweli redirected the conversation from race to the more general struggle of navigating the Hip Hop industry as an independent artist, something he says Macklemore & Ryan Lewis provided a blueprint for. “And that’s the story of the year,” he said. “Macklemore & Ryan Lewis did not do this with a major label. They did it on their own, with their own label, and it got so powerful that they had to employ Warner Bros. to promote their records. Me as an independent artist, me as an artist without a label and all these independent, underground Rap artists, we should be paying attention to the blueprint that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis set up, rather than the racial overtones of them winning a Grammy.”

RELATED: Talib Kweli & 9th Wonder Hope Collaborative Album Is Conscious Equivalent To Dr. Dre's "The Chronic"


  • Natied

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  • Anonymous

    If so-called 'black man' Talib didn't talk about white people there'd be nothing to day since NOBODY is talking about his dogshit music or that of his former "artist" "Jean Grae". Time's up, chump, but you can still enroll at Medgar Evers (look it up) in the fall I think.

  • MC Funky J aka Loco Gringo

    Dweeb is/was a member of the Five Percent Nation (I believe still is cause their racist ideology is still present in his music including his most recent album). "White Privilege" holds no relevance in Hip Hop as we are the minority as Artists in this Kulture. In real Hip Hop we don't discriminate against other no matter what race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation or religious beliefs. I wanna explain the reason why I'm mentioning dude or even on here commenting is cause he insulted (said I'm NSA, a snitch and all types of loose shit) and called me out (challenged me to a battle) on Twitter and then blocked me like lil girl and started subliminally dissing me on interviews. FYI, Dweeb is not street. He went to a private academy in Connecticut, that's where he learned his proper etiquette. FunkDetta will be released this Summer along with 15+ tracks including a few KRS-One disses (most recorded n released yrs ago), disses on Talib Kweli, their poser friend who be pushing red pom poms Lil Wayne, Chrissy "Da Sissy" Brown n others as well as a dope song dedicated to Hip Hop titled "More Than Music (It's a Kulture) feat. Craig G Peace in the Middle East, (*_*)__~ MC Funky J aka Loco Gringo

  • Anonymous

    50-year-old so-called black man and all he can talk about is whitey?

  • Anonymous

    Talib, Maino & Pumpkinhead (who?) = Three Worst Brooklyn Rappers Ever

  • Anonymous

    Gil Scott-Heron would kill himself if he wasn't already dead. Maybe if Talib spent less time licking white ass and more time reading Ishmel Reed he wouldn't be suck a fucking retard but that's like wishing this weak fuck had rhythm or could dance... Ain't ever gonna happen.

  • Assata Shake-N-Bake

    So called "proud black man" Talib cooooning it up again; he'll say ** anything ** to get his corny ass name out there, fucking off-beat never-was chump. Hey TK, when you gonna up clips of your daughter tweaking to Eminem records you lame fuck?

  • the realist death row

    That Macklemore song sounds like Slug of Atmosphere. What a fucking biter!!!! And Talib needs to fuck off.

    • Anonymous

      No, It doesn't stop trying to make something of nothing. What Song of Atmosphere? Right. And you need to mind yourself. Not Talib. Think about that. Don't respond.

  • Anonymous

    The goal for these rappers should be freedom, but it's not, we're mostly in a crossover era, instead of bringing an audience over to discover your creativity. We've reached a stage where the business aspect of the game is making mc's and turning people into artists, respect dude for having enough confidence in himself to persevere and win

  • skateboard C

    Everyone go checkout up and coming vocalist Stephcynie's single "Where Is Love" Featuring Sto Flowers (Official Video)" on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vqrWx31MSA&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  • Shiznit

    Macklemore? Is that the fat fuck who makes documentaries?

  • Really

    Stop it. Macklemore's cd was fantastic. This doesn't mean that Kendrick Lamar was less superior. Different content in each cd. Enjoy both. Stop limiting yourself to art based on nonsense that the media feeds you. Award or no award. Who cares. Enjoy the art instead of feeding in to the principle of this guy should of won so I will not listen to this guy. Remember the awards may have biases views but don't take away from the artist which really matter. Each race brings a different perspective. Listen, enjoy, celebrate. Be real with yourself and stop acting like music should have limitations. Their is no best rapper ever (its a opinion with no clear definition). Artist often appreciate other artist because they see their value and uniqueness. Macklemore would have been irrelevant but he is not. He is great. He beat the boundaries of being white in rap. That's hard to do by the way. This in no way an accident and does not disqualify other rappers. Listen to them all and enjoy. Lamar. Yep. Drake. Yep. Wayne. Yep. who cares. Yep. Stop being followers of what you think should be. You will never define with such tensions. Be Free and independently think for yourself without racial faults in rap.

  • Anonymous

    either you have skill or become that plantation major label nigga or appeal to to fagots

    • Anonymous

      Who has the skill? Who has the platinum major label? Does it have to be a nigga? Stop your rant. Appeal to Faggots? Spell the word correctly if you plan to attack and yes macklemore slaughtered you retarded defense with rap. In response to dumb.

  • Anonymous

    Yet Drake and Wayne still outsell macklemore.

    • Anonymous

      Stop the sells argument. Disclaimer: sales mean nothing. Listen to what you like... Can you do that? Yes. you can. Will you buy the album?... Maybe.. well no... ok.. listen. Who will buy the album?.. Poof. Economics 101, In order to make money you receive money. Great. does that make sense? Translation. sometimes the people who buy albums get to vote on various platforms. Who bought Kendrick Lamar? Who bought Macklemore? Don't answer my friend because it does not matter. Accept both artist in your playlist and be happy.

  • Anonymous

    fake conscious nigga hypocrite

    • Hold Up

      Your interpretation is unclear and you don't have an opinion your stuck. four worded has nothing to do with the article. Um fake. uh conscious. Um nigga. Uh hypocrite. Really making a point for lyricism. Wait. Let me not judge.. You win!

  • Anonymous


    • Anonymous

      Obliviously,your jealous of the attention macklemore is receiving. Even from your inspired artist. So sorry. Maybe one day Talib will suck on an artist you like. Its not him, its you. Listen to music and don't pay attention to who sucks who. Then maybe you will understand talent. Keep trying. I believe.

  • Anonymous

    Sad duck still gurgling gay balls in his black cheeks, fake conscious nigga you will flop forever now and I promise that.

    • So You Say..

      You promise a dick. You will get a dick. None of what you said made sense. Promise because he has black cheeks? What is on your conscious?

  • rideonemjixxer

    This was well put by Talib. Whether you like their music or not, at least their fans buy their music instead of pirating it. And the part where they did it independently is a serious accomplishment that most people wont take the time to acknowledge or understand, but from an artist stand point its brilliant. Rappers who keep waiting for that major label break are just playing the lottery...

  • Flocutier

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  • White Privilege

    I see so many people lost who really try to pretend But am I just another white boy who has caught on to the trend? When I take a step to the mic is hip-hop closer to the end? Cos when I go to shows the majority have white skin They marketed the windmill, the air flair and head spin And white rappers' albums really get the most spins The face of hip-hop has changed a lot since Eminem And if he's taking away black artists' profits, I look just like him Claimed a culture that wasn't mine, the way of the American Hip-hop is gentrified, and where will all the people live? It's like the Central District, Beacon Hill to the South End Being pushed farther away because of what white people did, now Where's my place in a music that's been taken by my race Culturally appropriated by the white face? And we don't want to admit that this is existing So scared to acknowledge the benefits of our white privilege Cos it's human nature to want to be part of something different Especially when your ancestors are European Christians And most whites don't want to acknowledge this is occurring Cos we got the best deal, the music without the burden Of being black in a system that really wants you to rock Cause all you need is a program and you can go and make hip-hop And we hate the mainstream cause we're the ones that took it Now we listen to Aesop Rock and wear t-shirts that say "Brooklyn" But it's not about black and white, right? I mean good music is good music regardless of what you look like But when you don't give them props isn't that selfish? That's like saying rock was actually started by Elvis So where does this leave me? I feel like I pay dues, but I'll always be a white MC I give everything I have when I write a rhyme But that doesn't change the fact that this culture's not mine [Hook] But I'm gonna be me, so please be who you are This is something that's effortless and shouldn't be hard I said I'm gonna be me, so please be who you are But we still owe 'em 40 acres now we've stolen their 16 bars Hip-hop started off on a block that I've never been to To counteract a struggle that I've never even been through If I think I understand just because I flow, too? That means I'm not keeping it true, I'm not keeping it true [Verse 2] Now I don't rap about guns, so they label me conscious But I don't rap about guns cause I wasn't forced into the projects See I was put in the position where I could chose my options Blessed with the privilege that my parents could send me to college Now who's going to shows, the kids on the block starving? Or the white people with dough that can relate to my content? Marketed the music, now adapted to the lifestyle What happened to jazz and rock and roll is happening right now Where's my place in the music that's been taken by the media With white corporations controlling what they're feedin' ya? I brought up Aesop Rock, but I'm not even dissing, dude We love hip-hop, and what do you think caucasians are listening to? And I speak freely when I write this If a black emcee examined race, there goes half their fan base, white kids And this is so true And we didn't even have to fight the system, we just went and picked up the microphone too And we got good at it so we should be rapping But only supporting them is like burning Jimi and buying Clapton Now Clapton's incredible, but no Jimi, no foundation So here comes history and the cultural appropriation White kids with do-rags trying to practice their accents From the suburbs to the upperclass, mastering a language But hip-hop is not just memorizing words It's rooted in authenticity, something you literally can't learn [Hook x2] But I'm gonna be me, so please be who you are This is something that's effortless and shouldn't be hard I said I'm gonna be me, so please be who you are But as I'm blessed with the privilege, they're still left with the scars Hip-hop started off on a block that I've never been to To counteract a struggle that I've never even been through If I think I understand just because I flow, too? That means I'm not keeping it true, I'm not keeping it true

  • A Trillionaire

    I think Macklemore's decision to stay independent had less to do with personal morals, and more to do with no major record company having the foresight to dangle a ridiculous amount of cash in front of his face at the right time. I mean, did anybody buy his album or go to his show BECAUSE he was an independent rapper? No, they did it because he raps about hipster shit and that's what is popular right now. The Majors were just sleeping on the new trends and were busy with gangster rap acts when they missed their opportunity to sign this nerdy white rapper from Seattle.

  • the sandman


    • Its OK

      Is it wrong for Talib to express his feelings about an individual. Does his input make you mad? Or are your prestige about what color the dick is because I never seen such bs in caps. Don't worry friend. Macklemore made it ok to be gay.

    • srgsrgrg

      word.... this nigga has like 7 articles on dx where he's bigging up macklemore

    • Talib Kweli

      You don't understand. Mack got the best Polish sausage looking dick I ever seen. I'd eat it with a whole bottle of mustard, no lie.

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