The rap duo of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were ubiquitous last year and the world couldn't get enough of them. Their album went platinum and they dominated the radio. They also won a lot of awards against rap's elite like Jay Z and Kanye West. The duo was nominated for seven Grammys including best rap album and best new artist. However, according to a source, some members of the Recording Academy who attended the rap committee for the Grammys think Macklemore and Ryan Lewis aren't hip hop because of their mainstream success and appeal to the pop world.
The question then becomes "What defines hip hip?" A lot of hip hop fans would say Drake isn't hip hop because he sings and raps. Drake has a lot of mainstream success and he also has a big fan base in the pop world. So why isn't Drake in the same position as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis? This is a double standard and it shouldn't even be taken serious.
Yes, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were one of the biggest acts of 2013. They had a few songs that were more pop than hip hop but their album had a lot of hip hip songs that didn't see the light of day. Hip hop isn't as popular as pop songs so it was a smart idea to put out pop songs. Drake's “Hold On, We're Going Home” was a pop song yet it shows up in a lot of hip hop lists. Are rappers not supposed to be very successful?
The underlying problem with this is Kendrick Lamar. His album "Good Kid M.A.A.D City" was loved by the hip hop community. His album is also nominated for best rap album but a lot of people think that he will lose to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis because of their popularity. While Kendrick's fan base is huge in the hip hop community, it is nothing compared to Macklemore's fan base.
The difference in the fan base isn't Macklemore's fault. He is doing his job and is garnering unjustified hate. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are as hip hop as any other artist. If you don't want to consider them hip hop, a lot of mainstream rappers will also be considered pop artists. Artists like Drake, Childish Gambino and B.o.B. will also be considered pop artists. The line between hip hop and pop is very narrow and success shouldn't be the determining factor of the difference between the two.