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An open letter to the cry baby known as Macklemore…

7:00 AM EDT on May 14, 2013


Hey Macklemore!

Matt from Oklahoma City here. You don’t know me, but I’m pretty familiar with your body of work. And not by choice! Your songs are impossible to avoid in the public sphere lately, which I suppose is to be expected when you (I’m speaking directly to you, Macklemore, and not “you” in the more general, second-person sense) score two number-one Billboard singles, lend your image and art to various corporate interests, and sell better than half a million albums of recorded music, as you have in the last year or so.

Now up until a few hours ago I wouldn't have thought that you needed a lesson in how mainstream popular culture works since you and that Batman onesie of yours —which now retails for $65— have lately occupied the center of it, but these tweets suggest you really haven’t learned much about it at all:

Yeah, I get that you’re just sounding off on a medium as ephemeral as Twitter and that such throwaway thoughts probably shouldn’t get probed this hard, but since you threw it out there, I'm going to throw it back at you. Here goes:

Complaining about an inappropriate use of your song after giving it to BMI for publishing is simultaneously boneheaded and conniving. It's boneheaded because it implies that you assumed that once Broadcast Music Inc. acquired the rights to "Can't Stop Us" they wouldn't do something like, oh, license it to a company --in this case The Professional Basketball Club LLC. (which owns the Oklahoma City Thunder)-- who would use it for a purpose you disagree with. And it's conniving because while you publicly complain about this business's infringement on your supposed cred, you'll eventually collect a royalty payment from BMI, which earned money by selling the Thunder's investment group a license to your recorded art in the first place

I understand and respect your desire to represent your hometown well and that you love your local sports teams* (even the perennially bad-at-winning Mariners!) but you're going to have to accept the cold, stark reality that producing arena-ready pump-up music with simple, broadly understood messages and then giving it to BMI might result in it being used for purposes you did not anticipate or that don't align with your personal beliefs. That's when you have to decide what "your" music is worth to you, because once it's as broadly heard as it now is, you're going to lose your say in who gets to listen to it, how they perceive it, and what they in turn choose to use it for.

But who am I kidding? You're an independent artist and the more people who hear your music, the better! Even if the companies you do business with repurpose your songs' messages to suit their marketing agenda, and in so doing, completely flip your message on its head!



*For real though, I do feel very bad that your city basically got screwed out of a basketball team because of people who wanted to move it to my city and I hope that the SuperSonics return soon. But definitely not at the cost of me giving up my team, sorry.

Matt Carney is the pop music columnist for LOOKatOKC. He previously wrote for The Lost Ogle about why John Fullbright deserved to win a Grammy more than Mumford & Sons. He likes when people follow him on Twitter 'cause he gets lonely sometimes, OK?

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