The rapper Macklemore (AKA Ben Haggerty) has always seemed to me like one of the most genuinely good people in the entertainment business. Today, I have little doubt about it. This week, he privately visited a college junior named Sam, who is suffering from leukemia, in the hospital. One of Sam’s friends posted an image of Sam and Macklemore posing together on Reddit; it caught the attention of media outlets and in response, Macklemore penned a response on his website.
You can read the whole thing here, but here’s my favorite part:
These types of experiences are important for me. They bring me back to a place of gratitude and give life a tangible value, beyond the instant gratification that my job provides. Being a rapper is one of the most narcissistic careers in the world. You are surrounded by yourself: interviews, Twitter, Facebook, Billboard charts, YouTube plays, shows, the crowds, awards etc. Fame suffocates the spirit and consumes you if you let it. You wake up thinking about you, and go to bed thinking about you. That’s not a good place to be.
With over 200 shows booked for the year, I barely get to see my family and spend time with the people that remind me where I come from and what’s really important. Getting outside of myself, even for an hour, and doing something like meeting Sam this afternoon gave me a small opportunity to be of service to someone else. I am able to realize that my problems are NOTHING compared to what him and his family are going through. And hopefully the visit made his day a little better and got him through another 24. That’s what matters in the end.
In all honesty, it’s the Sams of the world and the situations they go through that give us perspective on our own lives. Unfortunately, so often it takes a tragedy to wake us up and appreciate those closest to us. When we are faced with death, we immediately put a new found value on the life we’ve been given. I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet Sam and his parents today. Made me feel like a real person. Beyond the music and the accolades, at the core that is what I want out of this life. To feel. And Sam reminded me of that.
In a world of manufactured publicity ops (yeah, I’m looking at you vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who “barged” into a soup kitchen “without permission and proceeded to wash clean dishes” in front of cameras), I love hearing about celebrities who aren’t seeking attention for their good deeds. Can you imagine Kanye admitting, “Being a rapper is one of the most narcissistic careers in the world”?
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