Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Sometimes, whether I like to do it or not, whether it's right or whether it's going to send me to hell when the time is right, I think that the people without formal religion are actually more religious. The people who lean back and question the extremism spewing from the blindly devout tend to align themselves with something that works better for them and which is no less spiritual. You have to pinch yourselves some these days when you see flocks of "religious" folks clogging up a fucking chicken restaurant's drive-thru lanes and its cash registers in support of wildly indecent remarks that an old idiot of a man who owns the restaurants said, only because they believe that an old book of tales only likes it when men and women love each other and that any other combinations are unholy. You have to hit yourself some these days when, even still, even now, it's not simply okay to just live the way you'd like to live, peacefully and without judgment.
It's mind-blowing, really, but when it comes down to the argument of religion and the scripture, we're better off hearing out those who have formed their own kinds of temples - sort of like the one that Ben Haggerty, or Macklemore, has constructed. The MC from Seattle, Washington, doesn't need any kind of formal religion - even if maybe he has one that he keeps private, only for himself - because he's hunted down something sacred and fulfilling enough that it will always keep him afloat. He's found words and ideas, those that scatter and those that plant themselves, those that stream like tears, hurt like scabs and jiggle like laughter. He found hip-hop. He found Nas and it impacted him more than he could have ever imagined, just as much as that first pair of Air Jordans that his mother bought him, back when he was a schoolboy, shoes that finally gave him the leaping ability to graze the net with his fingers - a simple act that automatically made it the best day of his life. He loved those shoes. They filled him with such pride, until a buddy's brother got murdered for his pair and then the air got drained out of the allure or the mystique. They were just shoes.
He moved on to these words. He moved on to good people, those who cared, those who gave of themselves, those who showed the utmost humanity, without discrimination for anything. On this impromptu cut, from this lost session from a few years ago, Macklemore talks about "one life, one love, one God," off the cuff. Those not original sentiments, but those which are age-old, to have them flow from the mouth when the mind is searching for material makes it evident that it's not a surface topic, but one that prevails, somewhat. He raps, "The spirit's right here and I don't have to see it/Every time that I wanna connect with God/Put my headphones on/Got a pen and my pad." He then processes and lets it soak in, lets it work on him. One could say it's better than church.