Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop

The Heist
Year :
Beastie Boys / Lupe Fiasco / Little Brother

One of two things will inevitably happen as regards The Daily Soundtrack. In the first scenario, our public will be a segment of the internet which is already plugged into what is new and fresh, and wants an outlet that will provide a wider swatch of older sounds. In the second, we find our strongest footing with peers that might be daunted by seeking out newer sonic pleasures, either from outside their favored genre, or simply from outside the era they grew up in. One of the exciting things about this venture, for me, is that both sides of the coin lead to new discovery. So if you’re in that first demographic, indulge me as I chat a little about Macklemore for the benefit of the stodgier side of the equation, like myself.

Now, this is the part where I could tell you all about the time I bought a full tuxedo for $35, or when I brought two leather coats back from Charlotte for about $4 apiece, but these are boring stories. There is a brief nugget of excitement, it’s true, when you hear about a thrifting triumph, but it fades long before the music does. That’s the risk Macklemore runs immediately, especially since he seems to praise the thrift shop not as a dude who needs cheap clothing, but one who just likes finding something unique at a bargain price. A different rap song might highlight the thrift shop as an outlet of relief during tough times, giving the concept more pathos. What we get instead is a far more playful take on things. Keeping the tone playful is its saving grace, really. The hook, with its “this is fucking awesome” tag, sounds like a battlecry improvised in the midst of finding that sweet vintage shirt or perfect fitting pair of pants. Digs at himself and others add a certain bravado to the mundane without ever over-sentimentalizing or taking its subject too seriously. This song knows the limits of its topic and never tries to overstep them.

Ultimately, though, it is not a joke song, although it lends itself to singing along, laughing and goofing on it, as opposed to truly connecting or sitting silent and absorbing. It should be played riotously, but it, like the right purchase at a thrift shop, is not simply a novelty. The humor is frequently clever, and the commentary Macklemore is able to make against people who put too much value on the expensive brand name is more biting than one might expect given the quirky nature of the song. And then, there is the main riff, bubbling up like “Yakety Sax” on crack. That jumbled, off-kilter sax riff turns the track into a must-hear. It’s fun, for sure, but it’s also funky and grimy enough to blare through speakers unabashedly, while those jazz influences behind the riff keep it feeling a little dusty and already familiar, while also seeming just a bit odd-fitting. Which is, in the end, sort of what you expect from anything you’ve dug up from a thrift shop.

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Alex Lupica (@Alex_Soundtrack) has been in love with music since he was a toddler, despite its infidelities. (Really, music? Nu-metal? How could you!). Alex is Editor-in-Chief at The Daily Soundtrack.

One Response to “Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop

  1. July 07, 2013 at 1:27 pm, Matt said:

    This song is just an instant classic. (Whole album is good). Nice to have a modern rapper talking about something other than rims and making it rain