Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, & Big Daddy Kane discuss their experiences making Macklemore's "Downtown."
Macklemore has been catching a whole new new round of flak recently for his new music video "Downtown," for which he called on old school heads Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz, & Big Daddy Kane to contribute a throwback '80s feel. Mel, Moe, and Kane sat down with XXL to discuss their experiences with the song and share their thoughts on Macklemore's place in hip hop.
According to Mel, the collaboration came together via Kane's friendship with Macklemore's manager Zach Quillen. Said Kane: "I was told that Macklemore did a song and the hook for the song had that Furious Five feel and was there any way that I could get in contact with some of the legendary pioneering rappers and would they be interested in working with Macklemore. So I reached out to the original top three; before Jay, Biggie and Nas; before Kane, Rakim and G Rap; I reached out to Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee and Grandmaster Caz. The original top three. And they all were down and they made it happen.... It worked out for everybody and like I said, it was definitely a good look for hip-hop."
Melle Mel said he wasn't aware of the drama surrounding Macklemore's upset of Kendrick Lamar at the 2014 Grammys, citing his aversion to "petty beefery." While he was initially wary of Macklemore's aesthetic, he says he ultimately respects the moves he's making.
"I knew from the records that he made that ["Downtown"] was definitely something that you were going to go into with both eyes open. And at the end of the day, it turned out to be that he was trying to get to that next level. And that goes back to what I’m saying; the authentication thing. It was a planned move; he had a plan and the plan worked. Because what I’m gonna say from here on in is that he’s a good dude, he’s a real dude and he’s a friend to hip-hop. That’s what I’m gonna say."
He continued: "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."
Kool Moe Dee concurred with Mel, saying that he was mostly glad to see Grandmaster Caz get some well-deserved shine. "I can understand people not liking the record," he said, "I can understand the fans who don’t necessarily appreciate him as an artist, but I can’t understand anybody who couldn’t appreciate or respect the move that he made in terms of what he did and what it means to us...it was great to have [Grandmaster Caz] be able to be in that kind of light."
Head here to read the whole interview.