Everyone felt sorry for Kendrick Lamar after the dazzling young rapper was shut out at the Grammy Awards — even Macklemore, the guy who beat him head-to-head in several categories.
Macklemore sent Lamar an apologetic text after winning in the best rap album category, one of two discussion-worthy moments the Seattle rapper engineered Sunday night. That was one of four awards for best new artist Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and the one that sparked the most grumbling.
"You got robbed," Macklemore wrote in a text to Lamar that he later posted on Instagram. "I wanted you to win. You should have. It's weird and sucks that I robbed you."
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It was a unique moment in Grammy history — almost as unique as Macklemore's other moment: the mass on-air wedding that included same-sex couples performed during the duo's rendition of gay-rights anthem "Same Love."
Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, has made no secret of his opinion in the best rap album category, declaring early on that he felt Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d. city" should win best rap album over his own record "The Heist." Drake, Jay Z and Kanye West also were nominated in the category, but the hip-hop community seemed to throw its hopes behind Lamar, a 26-year-old Compton native and Dr. Dre protege who has deep respect from his peers because of his raw talent, verbal abilities and cinematic vision.
Haggerty's publicist said the Seattle rapper was unavailable to discuss his text Monday morning, but he had explained his feelings in an interview with The Associated Press last week.
"I think first and foremost we should absolutely be in the rap category," Haggerty said. "I think we should be nominated. I think we could have one of the best rap albums of this year that we're talking about in terms of the Grammys. I think in terms of a rap album, I think Kendrick should win it. I think there's many other categories that we're nominated in that I would love to take home a Grammy ... but in terms of that one, I feel it should go to Kendrick."
He also addressed the tear-inducing wedding in his Instagram post: "And to play Same Love on that platform was a career highlight. The greatest honor of all. That's what this is about. Progress and art."
The performance/wedding included Queen Latifah officiating for 33 couples and an appearance by Madonna, and played out in front of 28.5 million viewers, the second largest television audience since 1993, according to preliminary Nielsen Company ratings. It brought tears to the eyes of not only participants but also stars like Keith Urban and Katy Perry, who were on their feet for the emotional moment.
"It's just beyond, it's the pinnacle, it's the apex," producer Lewis said afterward of the night. "So to be up here and more importantly to be able to celebrate 'Same Love' and have the marriages onstage — my sister getting married tonight as well — was phenomenal. So, amazing."
The moment was potentially divisive in a nation wrestling with social issues, something The Recording Academy's president, Neil Portnow, acknowledged afterward. But he said it wasn't a political stand for the academy. It was a chance to help artists portray their music in the way they want.
"These folks wrote incredible songs and they have ideas about society and tolerance and fairness, and that's their message," Portnow said. "So our job is to set a platform where they can express themselves. ... We sit and discuss and talk about these things and try to find the right way to present the ideas, and frankly we're just very proud of what happened tonight. I think it's as elegant and as meaningful and as powerful as we wanted it to be."