In Defense of Macklemore

Okay.  I just had to address this.

I follow The Daily Swarm on Twitter, and yesterday (Jan 28th), they tweeted this article about a Brooklyn DJ’s thoughts on Macklemore, with specific regard to his dislike of “Thrift Shop”.  It appears that Skinny Friedman was inspired to voice his thoughts after reading this even more opinionated article by Brandon Soderberg.

A few disclaimers before I begin:

  1. I have no qualms with the people who legitimately do not prefer Macklemore’s style (or rap music in general).  People have different tastes in music, and that’s fine.
  2. I completely understand if people do not like “Thrift Shop” specifically, or if they are getting sick of it being played 23x a day on every radio station (even though I, personally, am not one of those people—I crank up the volume every time).

That being said, the reason I am all up in arms is because these articles reek of ignorance.  Both authors very clearly missed the point, and have quite obviously done zero research on Macklemore and his music.  Even though Skinny admits that “Macklemore is a legitimate, self-made indie success story,” he does not feel like Macklemore is “an artist who will be around for the foreseeable future” simply because his first hit was a funny song.


Right, because that’s never worked out for anyone before.

I might have been able to let that go, but then he said that “Rappers don’t break through to the mainstream with chart-topping singles; if they even have one, it usually the result of months or even years of buzz, local singles and popular tapes.”

This statement blows my mind because a simple Google search will show you that this is not Macklemore’s first song.  He has been working hard for over 12 years to try and make it by doing what he loves.  Before “Thrift Shop” went viral, he already had a sizable following of people who had been listening to and loving his earlier pieces.

Another flaw in Skinny’s article arises when he claims that Macklemore’s work “wasn’t aimed at people who like rap”.  Dear sir, what are you talking about?  Macklemore has a lot of other work out there, and if you had listened to any of his other songs, you might have made a different judgment call.  It just seems a little foolish to have done so little homework on this artist before judging him so openly and harshly on a site that was bound to get a fair amount of traffic.

Aside from that, “Thrift Shop” was not created with the intent of going viral and making a mockery of his genre.  No, it is something quite different.  Comedic personality Matthew Inman notes in his latest comic that he “paint[s] portraits of fiction, sometimes to cope, sometimes to escape, and sometimes just because it makes [him] happier” because he has “found the best way to deal with terrible things is to tell funny stories”.

Sometimes the most hilarious people lead the most difficult lives.

Sometimes the most hilarious people lead the most painful lives.

If Skinny had listened to almost any of Macklemore’s other songs, he would have quickly learned about Macklemore’s reoccurring battle with drugs, or about how Macklemore has watched drugs take the lives of several of his friends.

Getting back to “Thrift Shop”—this song was not created to mock second-hand stores or turn it into a cool fad for rich white kids (I’m looking at you now too, Brandon).  Brandon’s article boasts that Macklemore’s hit “stinks of privilege”.  What privilege?  He has been shopping in thrift stores his whole life (which discredits a solid 50% of Soderberg’s article).  Soderberg’s lack of research far surpasses Skinny’s, too.  He took offense to Macklemore’s song, claiming that “he pitches his vocal down to sound like a black dude”.  That might hold some weight, except that it features Wanz…and it says so right in title of the song.

How dare he sound like a black guy!

How dare he sound like a black dude!

Conclusion: Before you go trying to bash artists, at least look up the very song you’re directing your hate towards.  Then, conduct a basic Google search.  Maybe then you can avoid being so painfully misdirected.  Long live Macklemore—the man is doing some great work.  And as a final note to everyone, do yourselves a favor—listen to the entirety of Macklemore’s latest album.