On Sunday at this year’s Bumbershoot music festival, Macklemore was the hottest performer. Fans wearing t-shirts filled the Seattle Center, and began lining up at 4:45 for an 8:00 pm show on the mainstage, the Key Arena. Why is Macklemore, an unsigned rapper, performing in a packed-out Key Arena, capacity 16,641? It was a coming home party for the #206, a celebration that says we’ve arrived, northwest hip-hop has taken over the palace. While not as polished as the follow-up national act Wiz Khalifa, Macklemore brought local excellence, musical diversity and most of all, fan devotion. Yes, the packed-out Key Arena also cheered for Wiz Khalifa, but I saw no Khalifa shirts. Macklemore didn’t come alone, but brought out Shawn Kemp in a poignant moment of Supersonics nostalgia, DJ/producer Ryan Lewis, a horn section, a string section and a crew of vocalists and dancers. I’ve never seen a hip hop show with so many instruments on stage, with songs ranging from earnest heartfelt humility like The Town, celebrating the Seattle hip hop community, and the anti-drug the Other Side, to the all-out dance party celebration of Dance and Irish Celebration. Macklemore represents an emergent local hip hop tradition, fully embraced by the region. In an age of globalization and homogenization, Seattle (and every other place) needs to nourish our uniqueness and creativity, and build seasoned excellence. It’s how you build a unique culture, a unique city.