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Success is not just winning

Ben's Boombox

By Ben Meinking
On April 28, 2014

Music is a shade of various colors. It is a universal language. The melody of a song can be played on any instrument as well as being improvised on. With a beat, a song can unite two people simply by the groove. Although unique and subjective, music is a glorious moment of clarity.

Many stereotypes surround music and its genres. Is breaking those stereotypes a bigger battle than what it should be? Music is about the collaborative project of selected individuals to express themselves. Is it a purpose of breaking social norms and giving something different some air?

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis made their mark in the culture of hip/hop and R&B, but what did it take to get there? They produced a great album that centers on being unique and independent. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis created "The Heist," which captured Best Rap Album at the 2014 Grammy's, without the help of a label. Hailing from Seattle, the thrift-shopping duo managed to gain national notoriety in 2010 and have only become more popular. "The Heist" is bursting with an array of social stands and money problems.

Kendrick Lamar's universally acclaimed "Good Kid, M.A.A.D City" was "The Heist's" biggest competition at the Grammy's. Both albums were tremendous. They each were unique and took stands on everyday issues. While Macklemore supports gay rights in "Same Love," Kendrick Lamar uses his poetic language to stand against obsessive drinking in "Swimming Pools (Drank)."

While both of these artists show off their remarkable talent as modern-day poets, the competition between them is what society seems to focus on. Although the Grammy itself is an accolade to pin on the chest, it can cause more pain than it should. No matter who wins, someone is going to lose. After Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won in January, a large part of hip-hop culture voiced a dislike of the duo, claiming Kendrick Lamar was snubbed. In reality, both artists deserve to be recognized for their greatness. What is the big deal about an award? Is the whole point of music to compete against one another?

In June 2013, Rich Nichols, the Roots' manager, calls "black culture...difficult to have a point of view that's not about winning," when speaking about lyrics and music in an interview for the New York Village Voice. The Roots themselves are album artists centered in a singles world. Never materialistic, their lyrics are more based on politics and social oppression than what mainstream hip-hop has to serve up.

Personally, I can't wait to see what is in store for next year. Both Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar will be back in the studio getting great tunes back on the shelf. They are great artists making great music. It's like listening to the world through their ears, and what I hear is beautiful.


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