While performing his new single “Downtown,” Macklemore brought out rap legends Melle Mel, Grandmaster Caz, and Kool Moe Dee. However, the moment was hit with mixed reviews.
Some observers saw it as a cheap attempt to get back in to the good graces of Hip Hop followers after Mack’s controversial Grammy win over Kendrick Lamar in 2014. Others praised The Heist creator for bringing attention to some of the culture’s forefathers.
Melle Mel fell into the latter group. The 54-year-old member of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five even told XXL that other modern rap stars would not have reached back to pay homage to him and his fellow pioneers in the way Macklemore did.
And my whole thing was this: 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.
Big Daddy Kane also addressed today’s rappers:
If they use the term “Old School artist,” they’re normally talking about me, Rakim or Kool G Rap, somebody like that. What this brother did was he reached out to the real legends. Because [when] we talk about people like myself, Rakim, Jay Z, Nas, you’re talking about the Charlie Wilson’s, Teddy Pendergrass’, the Michael Jackson’s of the game, the people who came into something that already existed and took it to a different level. When you’re talking about Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz, you’re talking about the Ray Charles’, Quincy Jones’ of the game. We’re talking about the inventors. And no other rapper in this current era of hip-hop has done that: reached back to the people that invented this thing that everybody else is getting paid off and paying homage this way.
Watch the video for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Downtown” featuring appearances by Melle Mel, Grandmaster Caz and Kool Moe Dee below.