After sweating over putting this thing together for an entire summer, the Rocky Mountain Collegian presents to you an exclusive Q&A with hip hop artist Macklemore.
You were just here not even a year ago performing at the Aggie Theater. What do you think of your CSU/Fort Collins fan base?
Colorado has always shown an immense amount of love; I feel like the people in Colorado just go extra hard. They turn out that much more than anywhere else and tonight was no exception. Tonight was great. It was actually my favorite Colorado show in quite some time … People were really hyped, but they were listening and they were attentive and that’s the best combination of an audience.
You said you came from a harsh background, and being a kid our age once, did you ever think this is where you would be someday?
No, I mean, I wanted to be able to make music and make a living off of it, but in terms of the level that the music has reached, no. Going to the airport today and picking up “US” [Magazine] and seeing a picture of myself and Jennifer Hudson at the VMA’s, no, I never thought that that was going to be a reality.
I’d say “Thrift Shop” was one of your biggest break-through songs. Why do you think the crowd loves that so much?
I think that “Thrift Shop” connected for multiple reasons. I think that it had a hook that was catchy, the beat was fun, it had a good vibe to it and I think that it had lyrics that were different than anything else that was being played on the radio or just in hip hop in general, and then you had a great music video to accompany it and give it an identity. It was the combination of those things and the moon being in the right cycle.
What obstacles do you feel you had to overcome as an independent artist?
I think the biggest thing is getting people to pay attention, getting people to listen. Just getting the attention of the masses is the most challenging thing. With a major label system, you have some potential shortcuts that work in your favor, but as an independent artist you have to grind a little bit harder to get people’s attention and for us it was music videos that really did it. It was the music first and foremost, but then you have videos to back it and you end up playing small shows and doing that for a long period of time.
What kind of advice would you have for aspiring young artists our age, that are trying to make it out there?
I would say do it because you love it; don’t do it because you want to be famous. Do it because you want to be on the stage and you want to connect with people, but don’t have expectations of how many people that might be. Cut music first because you love it as a passion and if it works out great, if it doesn’t that’s fine because you’re doing it because the love is there.
What kind of influence do you try to aim towards your listeners through your music?
Every song changes, I try to be honest, I try to be vulnerable, I try to be myself. When you are those things, inevitably some truth will come across.
You just did a performance for a bunch of college kids who feel stuck at dead-end jobs as servers, cashiers and cart pushers. At our age, what was that job for you?
I worked as a sandwich artist, I worked at Burger King, I worked at Pizza Hut and I worked at the zoo. I was very good at that. I worked at a hat shop. I was a juggler at the fair. They called me the town jester, but I was just a juggler. That was probably the job I had the longest. I threw fish at Pike’s Place. I put in some work. I painted houses … but mostly it was the town jester.
Considering every aspect of your career now, what would you say has been the most rewarding thing for you?
I think making music that has made an impact on people’s lives. Writing music that has affected me and in turn will go on to affect other people. That’s the most fulfilling aspect of the job.
On that note, what inspired “Same Love”? Because it has really moved a lot of people.
“Same Love” was inspired by me reading about a gay kid who committed suicide at 13 years old and looking at the language that we use in hip hop, the homophobia that exists, the fear that exists and wanting to bring it to the light and have a discussion and a dialogue and hopefully create a song that would speak for something bigger than myself.
If you could choose one word that other people used to describe you, what would it be?
One word to describe me? Norwegian.
Who would you say has been your biggest supporter and really pushed you through those tough times?
Tricia. She has sacrificed a lot to be here, to commit to this way of life and to push me to make better art.
How do you feel being where you are now? Are you different than you were?
It’s nice to get acknowledged at this level. It’s nice to know there is a part of fame that is validating, but I also realize that it’s fake too. It’s fleeting. It’s not permanent. That music stands the test of time and fame doesn’t. But it’s cool to be accepted into different peer circles. To be at the after-party with Puffy, Jay-Z, Beyonce and J.T … So I’m enjoying it, but I also know it could all go away if the music’s not there. It’s about the music.
Do you actually eat dinner with Chuck Norris and Snoop Lion, as you mentioned onstage?
We all have dreams when we’re really young of what we want to be when we grow up; what did you want to be?
I wanted to be a veterinarian and I couldn’t make it so I ended up a rapper. It’s the second best thing.
Senior Entertainment writer Peyton Garcia can be reached at entertainment.com.