Kool Moe Dee says that the vitriol aimed at Macklemore surrounding the release of his “Downtown” single with Ryan Lewis, as well as the Seattle rapper’s performance of the song with Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz and Melle Mel at the 2015 VMAs (August 30), is misguided.
Since Macklemore & Ryan Lewis broke through in 2012 with their album The Heist and the singles “Thrift Shop,” “Can’t Hold Us” and “Same Love,” people have labeled Macklemore as a sellout, culture vulture and wack, among other things. The critiques resurfaced with the VMA performance Sunday.
“Most people don’t have depth and most people don’t have insight,” Kool Moe Dee says during an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “We reduce ourselves to opinion and one of the dumbest arguments I have ever heard is that everybody has an opinion. Yes, that’s true, but it invalidates any kind of critical thinking so you just get to have an opinion, which again is the problem in the media world that we live in. Dumber people now have a platform that they’ve never had before.
“I can understand not liking the record,” Kool Moe Dee continues. “I can understand not liking him. I can understand not liking us. But the need to actually put it out there – what do you get from that? What is the purpose of voicing that? It’s almost like a celebrity envy thing in that space. It’s stuff that I don’t like, but I don’t feel the need to go on some kind of TV show or some kind of media outlet and say, ‘I hate whoever the heck it is.’ What is the purpose of that when you really break that down?”
Kool Moe Dee Explains Origins Of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Downtown”
Featuring Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz and Melle Mel on ”Downtown,” which traverses musical genres and eras, was Macklemore’s idea. Kool Moe Dee says that Macklemore flew the three Rap pioneers to Seattle in June to discuss the potential collaboration.
Kool Moe Dee says that Macklemore had a specific reason he wanted to feature them on the song.
“We were the guys that basically were doing the cadence of what he was doing,” Kool Moe Dee says. “He said he wanted to pay homage to that cadence and speak, and get the guys that created or was part of that cadence from that era.
“I think it was just a masterful, smart kind of move,” Kool Moe Dee continues. “He knew he was going to get some kind of flack from it. In his mind, there’s always going to be haters no matter what. There will be a segment of the population that will just be happy to just see us and say that was a good look and a good move. Then there would be people that would even look at us as sell-outs or him as reaching. They’re going to put their spin on it. What they do. He was very, very cognizant of what was happening. Once we had that conversation, I’m like, ‘I’m with it.’ We talked for two hours before they even played the beat. That’s how serious they are about making sure that we knew what we were talking about or what we were doing, I should say.”
Big Daddy Kane Connected Macklemore & Kool Moe Dee
Macklemore got in touch with Kool Moe Dee through his manager, who is friends with Big Daddy Kane. After getting an idea of the direction of the song, Kane connected Macklemore and Kool Moe Dee, who says he was impressed with Macklemore’s artistic vision.
“After talking with the guy, it’s the classic case of not knowing an artist and looking at an artist through a filter of his records, which tons of fans do all the time,” Kool Moe Dee says. “It’s almost as if you think you know [MC] Hammer because you know his music and then you rate him by his music. To be quite honest Hammer, pound-for-pound was one of the most hardcore cats from a personal level of anybody I’ve ever been on tour with.
“It’s amazing because we live in a culture now where being in a gang or being able to shoot a gun and participating in violence ‘makes you hard,’” Kool Moe Dee continues. “Pound-for-pound most guys that do that really, really can’t fight. It’s the thing that used to be considered bitching back in the day gets you points today. So things are really, really flipped around.”
Kool Moe Dee compares today’s Internet-driven climate to the one in which he grew up in New York.
“If you couldn’t handle your business and you couldn’t put your hands up to protect yourself, you were kind of a punk,” Kool Moe Dee says. “The gun is to the punk is what the computer is to the nerd. You got instant relevance now that you have a gun. A nerd doesn’t necessarily fit in. You got so many Facebook, Instagram and Twitter gangsters now because you don’t have to ever really say anything in anybody’s face. You can just kind of hide behind a computer and indiscriminately just make comments. We are just in that era.”
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