LOS ANGELES — The gasps, groans and expletives were abundant backstage Sunday as Macklemore &Ryan Lewis swept the rap categories during the untelevised portion of the Grammy Awards ceremony.
Their massive hit “Thrift Shop” took rap performance and song, and their debut, “The Heist,” nabbed the trophy for rap album over breakout rapper Kendrick Lamar’s striking debut, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.”
The controversy was immediate. The indie Seattle duo’s early wins sparked a trending topic on Twitter as outraged hip-hop purists and critics admonished voters for picking the pair’s work over albums from Drake, Kanye West, Jay Z and Lamar.
It was always unlikely that the duo, up for seven awards including song and album of the year, would leave the Grammys empty-handed. Still, many didn’t expect the Seattle hip-hop outliers to make a clean sweep of the genre categories.
But neither did Macklemore.
Following his bounty of wins, the rapper sent a text message to Lamar and later posted a screenshot of the message to his nearly 3 million Instagram followers.
“You got robbed. I wanted you to win. You should have,” he wrote. “It’s weird and sucks that I robbed you. I was gonna say that during the speech. Then the music started playing during my speech, and I froze. Anyway, you know what it is. Congrats on this year and your music. Appreciate you as an artist and as a friend. Much love.”
Fans have been heavy-handed with criticism of Macklemore’s success. With a more pop-oriented brand of rap informed as much by indie rock as traditional hip-hop, he’s dominated mainstream radio with hits like “Thrift Shop,” “Can’t Hold Us” and “Same Love.”
Despite a rise from underground rap to mainstream star that took more than a decade, Macklemore has become an easy punchline in the rap world, often dismissed as a gimmicky pop act.