Sure, Seattle rapper-DJ duo Macklemore (nee Ben Haggerty) and Ryan Lewis had the crowd at the Fillmore singing along to their heartwarming gay marriage anthem "Same Love." The song is off their just-dropped release The Heist, which is currently astraddle the top of the iTunes charts. We're talking San Francisco here, so the audience's exuberance was kind of a gimme.
But it's still exciting.
Before the show on Sunday, during a break in soundcheck, I caught Lewis -- Macklemore was under the weather and, his manager said, saving his voice for the show -- for a chat in a dark corner of a poster-covered room. He says that the song has served as a barometer of sorts for the country's perception of gay rights.
"We've played in places that are more mixed in politics, and we've seen just as many people singing. It's so clear and exciting that there's a new generation of thinkers." Their audience -- judging by the Fillmore show and the fans that bombard their social networking sites -- is mainly white, mainly young, mainly straight, so if Lewis' gauge is on and the success of "Same Love" reflects a changing mindset, yay and shut the hell up Cards fans.
Gay rights is so in right now in hip-hop. Which is great? In parts. So entirely did Frank Ocean's Tumblr admission capture the country's attention this summer, in fact, Lewis says he and Haggerty were slightly concerned that "Same Love" "would be thrown to the mix," that it would look like the duo was attempting to cash in on a trend. They're not the only straight men in hip-hop to weigh in on the issue (in fact, some have done so quite eloquently.)
Haggerty wrote the lyrics back in April: "If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me/ Have you read the Youtube comments lately?/ 'Man that's gay,' gets dropped on the daily/ We become so numb to what we're sayin'"
"Up until a couple years ago, that was in our vocabulary," says Lewis. "We'd both like to think of ourselves as smart people. We just hit a point."
Other points that they've hit? Macklemore's been around a minnit (a fact I was reminded of by my childhood friend Mr. Mr of Portland's Gray Matters, who interrupted my Facebook chat gush-rant with the bombshell that I actually had interviewed the rapper -- six years ago for my college sociology thesis on race roles in the underground hip-hop scene. "Remember when I tried to tell everyone how awesome he was seven years ago?" SORRY JOHN YOU'RE ALWAYS RIGHT, FOREVER) and has had some time to drop some wisdom.
Surely you've heard the duo's ode to thrifting (a video which has inspired countless incidents of heat stroke among the young men who now insist on wearing fur coats to Macklemore shows.) "Thrift Shop" is one of an army of immaculately-produced videos to come outta Seattle via Lewis and Macklemore. That's not the only anti-consumerist song they've pushed -- they did a gorgeous indictment of sneaker head culture called "Wings" and the video for the Lewis-produced "Fake Empire" lambasts our addiction to branded products.
Plus they're self-released. And like, dreamy. Ugh. Ping, SF promoters -- book them a hella gay side gig when they come back for their December 10 show at the Regency (already sold out?! Ugh v.2.)