January 28th, 2014
03:57 PM ET

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis sweep rap categories: Are the Grammys racist?

The Grammys made a big splash with a surprise appearance from Madonna, a mass wedding and a Beatles reunion, but most of the talk soon after was about the rapper Macklemore, who won four awards.

In addition to the trophy for Best New Artist, he swept the rap categories, winning for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.

He is a very popular performer and yet there is controversy surrounding his wins.

Much of the focus has been on his race–  he's white - and some are even asking, are the Grammys racist?

In the August 2013 issue of Rolling Stone, Macklemore spoke about race and mainstream success.

Grammys 2014: Trent Reznor, Macklemore tell us how they really feel

"We made a great album, but I do think we have benefited from being white and the media grabbing on to something."

"One of the reasons Macklemore won [was] because he had a song "Same Love" that dealt with the issues people are dealing with right now," said Christopher John Farley, editor of the Wall Street Journal's entertainment blog "The Speakeasy." "If other rappers have a problem with him winning, they need to come up with a songs that address issues that people are talking about."

On OutFront, CNN's Don Lemon read a comment made by Kanye West in 2013 when he expressed frustration over the Grammys.

"Now I'm 36-years-old and I have 21 Grammys. That's the most Grammys of any 36-year-old. Out of all those 21 Grammys, I've never won a Grammy against a white artist," West said.

Contrary to what Kanye says,  he has beat white artists like Eminem and the Beastie Boys in the past.

Lemon asked Grammy Award-winning rapper Coolio whether he thought white performers received preferential treatment.

"They have the opportunity to become more popular than some African-American or other race artist," Coolio said. "I think that because they're white they sometimes get more air play."

Coolio went on to say Macklemore won all his awards because he's white.

But does rap get the respect it deserves, given that there are only four hip hop acts in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Lemon put that very question to Hall of Fame Foundation CEO Joel Peresman.

"I think it needs to get more," Peresman says. "People think that [rap] has no place in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but we think it does."

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