The same year that New Zealand legalised same-sex marriage, Macklemore’s Same Love was blasting from our car stereos, going off at gay bars and it was also most likely what you listened to with tears in your eyes as you cooked dinner on a Sunday evening.
Macklemore, real name Ben Haggerty, released the track with Ryan Lewis, who was, until recently, his long-time collaborator. It’s about supporting marriage equality and Macklemore’s experience as an ally to the LGBT+ communities, encouraging others to think about how they treat us. It makes sense then, that it became one of our anthems.
Macklemore didn’t just talk the talk with this track – all of the proceeds from the song went to the marriage equality campaign in Seattle, which celebrated success in 2012. While many will say the song was inspired by his gay uncles, it was actually the story of a young teenager who was bullied, and who eventually took his own life, that prompted the rapper to write Same Love.
“You can only watch injustice go on for so long until you say something,” he told the American Civil Liberties Union.
Lyrically, Macklemore reflects on how LGBT+ people were treated as he was growing up in a Catholic community and now, as he finds himself in the hip hop scene. The chorus was written by Mary Lambert – who in her own words, is “hella gay”. Macklemore says marriage equality is simply about human rights. “This is an issue that I feel strongly about, that I feel passionate about. These people are human beings that should have the exact same rights as everybody else.”
Head to his website and you’ll find a section called ‘Activism’ where Macklemore says “As artists, we are committed to using our platform, resources and creativity to have an impact on racial and social justice issues.”
Still to this day, he’s using Same Love to push for marriage equality. Most recently he jetted over to visit our neighbours across the ditch and perform Same Love during the Australian NRL final in Sydney. Yes, that’s right, he performed a LGBT+ friendly anthem at a rugby league event and right in the middle of the nationwide postal ballot on marriage equality. Some Aussies weren’t too keen on that detail and a petition calling for the performance to be called off circulated – even the Aussie PM was up in arms. In the end, our allies got behind the song, pushing it to number one on the Australian iTunes chart. Macklemore donated his profit of the Australian sales of the track to the YES campaign.
Now for the first time in 12 years he’s dropped a solo album, Gemini. You may have seen the adorable video for the single ‘Glorious’ which features Macklemore’s 100-year-old badass grandmother, Helen – if you haven’t be sure to check it out. It’s an album that is less politically motivated than those in the past, Macklemore brings things back to the strength of rap, and he says there’s a confidence to this album that wasn’t necessarily there on his last release This Unruly Mess I’ve Made.
He told Rolling Stone magazine “I think it’s mostly the music that I wanted to hear. It’s the music that I wanted to go get into my car and listen to. I wanted it to be fun.”
Macklemore plays in Auckland 9 February at Spark Arena and 10 February at Wellington’s TSB Arena. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.