When a hip-hop song reaches number one on the mainstream charts, it safe to assume that its a piece of crap. Lets face it, Lil Wayne and Flo Ryda aren’t exactly making music that is at all intelligent or…well, particularly good. In fact, mainstream rap has been in state of decay since the mid 2000’s….culminating in the sad, sad state that its in today. When I saw a song called Thrift Shop at the top of the charts, it was safe to assume that it too would be terrible. Critics have been evenly split on this song. Some call it a testament to the sad state of the music industry, and others call it a revolutionary game changer for hip-hop music. After seeing the polarizing reaction to the song, I had to give Macklemore & Ryan Lewis a listen for myself.
Initially, it seems easy to write this song off as garbage. To the first time listener, Macklemore comes off as a joke rapper, more similar to LMFAO or Asher Roth than to legitimate MC’s. After all, this is a song about shopping at a thrift shop, being horny, and making cheap jokes at R. Kelly’s expense. And yet…that’s part of the appeal, isn’t it? Humor is a universal language, as we found out with Gangnam Style. And yet….like Gangnam Style, the humor easily covers up the poignant message that the song is trying to make. (Of course, there was a cultural and language barrier in Psy’s case…but still!)
Thrift Shop is actually a commentary on “swag culture,” and our obsession with name brands. Today, we see everyone claiming to be their own person, with their own individual style…and yet, everyone seems to look the same. Same brands, same styles, same over priced “swag.” Today’s pop scene is more about bling than soul, more about style than substance. That is the society that Macklemore spins on its head through his spitfire verses and tongue-in-cheek delivery.
Plus, lets not deny it. Ryan Lewis is a kick ass producer. This song has a seriously awesome beat, backed by brass horns and a rat-a-tat drum section. It reminds me a bit of Kanye West’s Gold Digger…only less annoying. Guest vocalist Wanz delivers a solid chorus with a catchy hook. You’ll be hard pressed to NOT sing along about “Popping tags” with only “20 dollars in your pocket.” However, nothing beats singing along to his cry of “This is fucking awesome!”
And it truy is. Thrift Shop is going to be a huge breakout for the hip-hop duo. For once, it feels like this could be a song that injects some much needed creativity, intelligence and humor back into the hip-hop genre. Its a fun and funny song that remains witty and intelligent. It has a point to make, and it does so through slick production, slick rapping, and an overall slick presentation. Yes….”this is fucking awesome” sums it up just right! Don’t be surprised if this starts a sudden surge of thrift shopping!