Hip-hop sensation Macklemore shows off his thrifty sense
Thrift Shop made Macklemore and his producer Lewis global superstars, but there’s a lot more to the Seattle rapper than a fondness for second-hand clothes
You can rhyme about anything in hip-hop. Every topic under the sun has already come up for consideration in front of the microphone. From gold chains and Burger-King bathrooms to obsessive fans and height issues, there’s very little which hip-hop has not already put through the lyrical wringer.
But there’s always room for something new. Until Macklemore and Ryan Lewis decided to turn their focus on the subject, very few hip-hop acts have focused on shopping at your local charity or thrift shop. Hip-hop likes its fashion, but it tends to concentrate on bragging about aspirational high-end brands rather than saluting the joys of low-cost, frugal second-hand gear and the clothes you can find on the racks in charity shops.
Thrift Shop bucked that convention – and it also changed life for the Seattle rapper born Ben Haggerty and his producer Lewis as well. While Macklemore and Lewis (the latter working with the rapper for the past number of years first as a photographer and then producer) had already a strong, vibrant underground following, nothing tickled the mainstream’s fancy until Thrift Shop came along.
Even now, millions of sales and more millions of YouTube views on, it’s still ubiquitous, a track which seemingly gets a new lease of life every few months. You can understand why it’s hit a chord. It’s a booming, thumping, tongue-in-cheek paean to charity shopping with an infectious chorus which digs its way deep into your brain and declares squatters’ rights. The video is equally eye-catching, with Macklemore rocking a gigantic fur coat and a bunch of other thrift-store finds.
People can’t get enough of it – or the duo behind it. When they hit Dublin late 2011, they played two shows at the Twisted Pepper. In two years, this has become a brace of sold-out dates at the much larger O2 arena. That’s a hell of an acceleration.
This growth in profile and popularity is even a surprise for the man at the heart of it all.
“When we made Thrift Shop, I didn’t think there was any chance that we would have a shot at commercial radio whatsoever, no chance. I thought if we didn’t sign a major- label deal that there was a percentage of a chance that it would take off at radio.
“It’s weird to be recognised in public now as the Thrift Shop guy. I didn’t see that coming. I never thought it would get nearly this big, so I feel an immense sense of gratitude that people are connecting with the music as they are.”
What’s just as hard to take is that it shows no sign of stopping.
“When the record took off, it just kept on going and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. It’s like everything is largely the same as it was and I’m the same person I was before all this happened, but life still feels like it’s totally bizarre and strange and changed. That’s hard to adapt to.”