Make the money, don't let the money make you
Change the game, don't let the game change you
I'll forever remain faithful
All my people stay true, I say

from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (Ft. Macklemore) – Make The Money Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

The first and second lines are saying to make the money and don’t let the money and mainstream hip-hop attraction get to you (greed).

The third and fourth lines are saying that he will always be faithful to his fans and he will never change his way of music for money and to get known. Telling his people to stick with him.

He is also saying that artists should bring something new to the table and revolutionize rap instead of conforming to the current style of rap (money, guns, drugs, bitches and hoes, etc.) Most artists start out with their own unique style, but in order to make money they feel the need to conform to “safer” topics that they know there is an audience for. He is promising to remain faithful to all of his fans and to never change his style of rap because he can make money talking about topics that are popular but not important. Work because you like the work, not because the pay is good (yes, greed)

Beyond a purely hip-hop perspective, he’s saying that everyone should focus on keeping money in perspective. Yes, it’s more or less a necessity to make money, but don’t allow the money to corrupt and twist your attitude, vision, and goals.

The “game” could be the rap game or society in general, which is also a game designed by men. Change society rather than letting it mold you into a mindless follower.

Check out how closely this parallels 2Pac’s “Fame.”

We must all stay true
Play the game nigga
Never let the game play you

To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “Make The Money” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (Ft. Macklemore) Lyrics and leave a comment on the lyrics box