Essay about Mackelmore and Youth Theology

Submitted By ndq12124
Words: 2611
Pages: 11

“I read the bible, but I forget the verses- the liquor store is open later than the churches” is one of many blunt lyrical expressions that is contained within artist Macklemore’s music. His music could be compared to a modern-day lament like the psalmists of scripture. Macklemore’s music should grab the attention of any listener because of the theological and social themes contained within its lyrics. In order to properly study his work and how it fits into popular culture one can use an author-focused approach to study this phenomenon.
Gordon Lynch, author of “Understanding Theology and Popular Culture” presents an organized way in understanding “the role of the author in shaping the meaning of a popular cultural text…” (Lynch 120) His model allows for one to properly analyze how an artist influences popular culture in a streamlined manner that asks four essential questions. His approach questions: contextual/cultural questions, questions of authorial intent, questions relating to the authors wider body of work, and psychological/psychoanalytic questions. Lynch does warn, “…Some caution needs to be taken in answering these questions. The notions of the author as creative individual artist can be such a seductive one in the context of Western culture that we can be tempted to ascribe greater coherence or significance to an authors background, intentions or style than may be justified.” (Lynch 120) Although there seems to be concern, it appears that this method is sound enough to explore Macklemore’s influence on popular culture, specifically youth culture.
Lynch’s method will be especially helpful due to the heavy topics that Macklemore explores in his work. Themes like: Homosexuality, Consumerism, Drug Addiction, and Satire are explicitly addressed in Macklemore’s songs. These topics are extremely relevant and important in both popular culture but also youth culture. Macklemore’s opinion on these particular issues could be considered as controversial within the church today, yet his influence and power to have his message heard cannot be ignored. Lynch’s author focused approach will be the tool to explore Macklemore’s power to influence youth and its culture.
The first of Lynch’s questions addresses essentially how the authors background influences their work and how if the author’s background differs from our own, it can affect our interpretation of the message the author is conveying in their work. Putting this method into practice lets look at Macklemore’s background. Macklemore, born Ben Haggerty on June 19th 1983, raised in Seattle Washington. Haggerty earned a Bachelors Degree from The Evergreen State College where he became “interested in reaching a younger generation through his music, he was a part of a program focusing on education and cultural identity called Gateways for Incarcerated Youth where he facilitated music workshops.” (Wikipedia 2) In Macklemore’s earlier years he started writing lyrics at 14 in which were influenced by “a lot of West Coast underground hip-hop.” (Wikipedia 2) One can infer that his west coast hip-hop background influenced his style and flow of the lyrics contained within his songs. However, someone who does not understand his context may misinterpret the bluntness and raw expression in his lyrics that stems from his west coast influence. The question of to what degree does this hinder his message from being heard without misinterpretation is prominent after considering Macklemore’s background. I believe that this is something even more important in considering how the younger population takes his lyrical content and overall message- but we will get to that later.
To better understand Macklemore and his view on particular social issues one must look at his faith proclamation. Dan Buyanovsky, a representative from, asks Macklemore what his relationship with God is like. Macklemore responds, “My relationship with God is as strong as the time and energy I put into