Melle Mel Calls Out Kendrick Lamar & J. Cole, Praises Macklemore For Respecting Hip-Hop's History
Here we go. Perhaps some of you have seen the video for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis‘ oddly familiar single “Downtown.” You didn’t see it here because, honestly, I’m still pretty sour about your boy’s Grammy win for his remarkably unremarkable The Heist LP. But if you had laid your eyes upon that posturing spectacle, you may have noticed a few familiar faces. Namely, the likes of Grandmaster Caz, Kool Moe Dee and the one and only Melle Mel, who recently delivered the statement below to AllHipHop, condemning a grip of contemporary hip-hop stars for not reaching out to him or his fellow members of the foundational Furious Five crew.
“I know for a fact that J. Cole or Kendrick Lamar or Rick Ross or Jay Z or any of these cats, they would not have done it, ever. They would not have done it. It took him to do it. And all those other so-called ‘real cats,’ they should hang their heads because somebody should have done it by now. They could have reached back to any of us. If you’re making records and you say you’re Hip Hop, you’re supposed to have a connection to what Hip Hop really is. And nobody made that connection until Macklemore made the connection. And I’ve had this conversation quite a few times since everything happened and had that little controversy of, yeah, the White boy, using the OGs, or blah blah blah. And like I said, none of those other guys would have ever done it. And it’s a shame that that’s the reality of what the game is right now.”
Except that’s hardly the state of the game these days, Mel. Sure, the commercial end of the spectrum is and will likely always be a little lacking in their understanding of the culture’s history. But I’m equally sure that Macklemore is in your debt for providing him with the true-school stamp he’s been seeking since claiming the Grammy for “Best Rap Album” in 2014 over a more deserved Kendrick. Statements like this do more in burying the living to praise the dead, than actually commanding your spot in the history of a culture (which is already iron-strong) not even acknowledging just how uncanny the similarities between the song you came out for and say, “Uptown Funk,” which at least retroactively added The Gap Band (and rightfully so) to the credits.
So please, don’t be that guy Mel. Don’t gloss over the fact that Kendrick created one of the most important records to grace the hip-hop canon in what seems like ages, capping off the album by staging an interview with Tupac and also featuring two of funk’s most iconic voices on the record in Ron Isley & George Clinton (who built this whole damn ship.) Don’t pretend that Jay Z hasn’t always displayed the utmost reverence for yourself and legends like Big Daddy Kane, no matter how commercial his trajectory may be. And certainly don’t be a defender of “real” hip-hop when there’s so much innovation taking place, pushing the art forward and expanding the definition of what is and isn’t “real,” just because you’re hurt that you weren’t the one gloriously flying over Oakland in the video for “Alright.”