Essay on Macklemore Gay Rights Song Lyrics

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As a response to the disapproval of homosexuality, popular songs promoting gay rights through meaningful instrumental music and lyrics have been effective to bring the attention of the issue to the general public. Even way before same-sex marriage was legalized, the first openly lesbian singer in the 1990s Melissa Etheridge released “Come to My Window” and “I’m the Only One” to share her experience in lesbian relationships (McKinley Jr., 2013). Singers with similar intentions, like Frank Ocean, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga released songs about accepting homosexuality to support gay rights. In the album The Heist, the song “Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert was released in July of 2012 and became one of Macklemore’s first hits, reaching tenth on Billboard Hot 100 Chart and gaining a nomination for Song of The Year at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards (Vale, 2016). It also won the title of Best Video With A Social Message at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2013 (Songfacts). The song “Same Love” portrays the message to accept homosexual relationships and marriage by incorporating personal stories and experiences, containing powerful lyrics, and manipulating the musical dynamics in the song.

Writing the rap lines of “Same Love,” Macklemore was inspired by his familial background and his eagerness to stop homophobia and prejudice against same-sex relationships in the hip-hop community. Even as two straight men, Macklemore and his music producer Ryan Lewis both agree that gay rights are like human rights. Especially Macklemore strongly supports embracing different sexualities because of his early exposure to a gay community at home with his two gay uncles and a gay godfather (McKinley Jr., 2013). He feels that the hip-hop industry is to be blamed for using “gay slurs” that encourage young listeners to use the same epithets as a means to bully gay teenagers, potentially causing insecure young adults to develop depression or even commit suicide (McKinley Jr., 2013). Macklemore not only incorporates his political view about same-sex marriage in his songs, but he also expresses his opinion about white privilege in his two-part song “White Privilege I/II” and brings a sense of nostalgia in “Good Old Days,” which is one of my favorites. As the chorus singer in the collaboration with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Lambert’s written lyrics also tell a personal story from back at home. Coming out as a lesbian at the age of seventeen, Lambert grew up as an Evangelical Christian and struggled with being comfortable with her sexuality (Agandi, 2016). Her lyrics “And I can't change, even if I tried/ Even if I wanted to/ My love, my love, my love, my love/ She keeps me warm, she keeps me warm” in “Same Love” comes from her own song “She Keeps Me Warm” about her personal experiences as a lesbian (Lambert, 2013). All in all, “Same Love” is a very personal song to all three artists and was intentionally written to spread the message of accepting homosexuality and same-sex marriage, which was politically influential as the song was released.

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From the gay liberation movement in the 1960s to the 1970s, supporting gay rights has been controversial to this day. The time that “Same Love” was produced was relatively close to the time for gay marriage polling. With pro-gay-rights as the theme, “Same Love” guided the support from young adults in the polls as the Supreme Court reconsidered the Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage only between men and women, and the ban on same-sex marriage in California (McKinley Jr., 2013). The song also served as a theme song for the campaign to support Washington State’s Referendum 74 which legalized same-sex marriage (Vale, 2016). Along with reaching out to voters to boost support for gay rights, “Same Love” also contains lyrics that appeal to homosexual individuals who face similar emotional struggles and obstacles mentioned in the song. (I still have to add more info)

The song begins with Macklemore rapping about learning different sexualities in his childhood. He talks about gender and homosexual stereotypes: girls like to draw, guys like to play baseball, and homosexuals only have the characteristics of the sex they like (Haggerty, 2012). Following his childhood story, Macklemore mocks political and religious figures who think that homosexuality can be “treated” and “cured,” implying that he does not think being homosexual is a sin (Haggerty, 2012). Lambert then sings the chorus about how she cannot change her sexuality even if she tried and describes her partner who makes her feel “warm” (Lambert, 2012). The word choice of “warm” shows that Lambert feels comfortable and has a sense of security in her partner’s arms. When I listened to the song, Macklemore and Lambert’s beginning verses brought my attention to the unfair treatment towards homosexuals and evoked my emotions of sympathy and compassion. On the other hand, if the audience were homosexual individuals themselves, these lyrics could help unite their feelings of frustration, helplessness, and unwantedness, whether it is triggered politically or religiously. Macklemore’s next verses of rap address the oppressive culture the hip-hop world is forming, utilizing aggressive language like “faggot” to emphasize the issue (Haggerty, 2012). Lambert’s repetitive chorus then follows and transitions into Macklemore’s last verses of rap. He uses “play” and “pause” of possibly a video or song as an analogy for continuing the fight for homosexual equality (Haggerty, 2012). He appeals to the homosexual audience by mentioning the despair they develop from the hateful and unaccepting world (Haggerty, 2012). Lastly, Macklemore directly talks to the general public saying that only we can change how we think and be more accepting, not laws (Haggerty, 2012). No matter what religion we believe in, we are all human and equally deserve love (Haggerty, 2012). Finally, the song ends with a personification of love, repetitively describing it as patient and kind (Lambert, 2012). The music artists not only manipulate their lyrics to portray their message, but they also take advantage of music dynamics.

“Same Love” includes a strategic format, a balance of background music and lyrics are sung, and repetition to deliver the main message more effectively. The song’s duration is five minutes and nineteen seconds, which is considered to be longer than average songs. At the beginning of “Same Love,” Lewis plays simple piano notes and instrumental music that lasts for forty-one seconds until Macklemore starts his rap, creating a gentle, smooth transition. The combination of catchy beats and repetitive piano chords compliments Macklemore’s rhythm and rhyme, making it easy to follow along with. Throughout the song, there is a trend of connecting Lewis’s simple piano chords with Macklemore’s rap verses to allow the audience to focus on the lyrics. To emphasize Macklemore’s lyrics and improve flow, Lewis would vary from loud to soft and back to loud keys. Macklemore’s chronology of addressing the issue first and then proposing a solution was a clever, effective strategy.

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