Michaella Sloane – For the past year or two these words have become something of an anthem in clubs and pubs everywhere. Thrift Shop was released in 2012 on Macklemore’s album with Ryan Lewis, The Heist, and the song soared into popularity almost instantly, boosting Macklemore’s fame along with it. The song appeared in the right place at the right time. A world filled with hipsters and their counterparts can’t get enough of it. The tune is insatiable and the lyrics, well, don’t seem to take themselves seriously but I guess that’s why we love it.
There is far more to Macklemore, though, than songs about buying cheap things and having a really good time. He is one of the few current rap artists who explore very real and very current issues as well as those that are very important to him personally. Thrift Shop shares an album with songs about alcoholism, gay rights, and being obsessed with material possessions. He makes some very poignant points in his music. In Neon Cathedral ft. Allen Stone he refers to his struggle with alcohol and consequent disillusionment with his faith; “wouldn’t miss it for the world, baptized in my vices and the bar is my church, traded my artist and pawned off my easel, spend it all searching for God at the neon cathedral”.
Macklemore’s music is conscious. It comes from a very personal place that he feels can be a testimony to others. When asked in an interview about the feature of sobriety in his music he said, “For me, being transparent about every aspect of my life is what makes my music relatable”. Despite the weight of what most of his songs carry he still manages to avoid coming across as pushy. He is not trying to force his values onto anyone. Oftentimes he is simply telling a story and it is up to the listener to decide how to react to it.
His versatility is something else that makes his music very appealing. His albums always have a combination of light-hearted and fun songs, very meaningful songs and stuff in between. In the album The VS. EP, there is a song about Irish heritage and celebrations – in other words sitting in a bar, drinking with your mates and singing rowdy bar songs – while there is also a song about succumbing to drugs and alcohol. This versatility also comes through in the style of his songs. He doesn’t stick to similar beats and tunes. It’s very hard to get bored with it. There is just so much to enjoy about Macklemore’s music.
There is nothing wrong with Thrift Shop – it’s a personal favorite of mine – but more attention and credit should be given to the rest of his music. His music is a welcome break in the current popular rap scene which has become quite repetitive. Macklemore has something different to offer, something which has a lot of worth to it, something which restores a dimension to music that doesn’t occur very often anymore. Something special.