The Good and The Bad of Macklemore

    • Posted by: Annie Brinich

    Like every white 18-year-old from the Pacific Northwest, I loved Macklemore in 2012. "Thrift Shop" was catchy, clever, and impossible to escape from for the months following the music video's release. At the time, I didn't mind that it was played out of every dorm room speaker in America. This Macklemore guy was so fun! I also liked cheap clothes!

    Since "Thrift Shop", Macklemore (with sometimes-producer Ryan Lewis) has released a number of songs and performances that have varied from thoughtful and musically significant, to terrible. Here they are, in no particular order:

    The Good: "Same Love" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, feat. Mary Lambert, The Heist (2012)

    This is the first song about being gay that I remember a straight friend (my college roommate, throwback) showing me before any of my other queer friends. Kudos to Macklemore writing a song about LGBT issues. Not many straight men are willing to do that.

    The Bad: "Same Love" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, feat. Mary Lambert, The Heist (2012)

    After my roommate showed me the "Same Love" video, I watched it with a not-straight friend and had a great time tearing it to shreds. This could have been a bittersweet love song--a true protest song, in a sense. But it instead, it's tainted by Macklemore making such a deal of pointing out he isn't gay. No one asked?

    The Good: "Neon Cathedral" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Heist (2012)

    This is a lovely song. In fact, most of Macklemore's music about addiction is music I find honest and compelling. His song "Starting Over", also on his 2012 album The Heist--about trying to come clean about no longer being clean--is another great song. These are songs that addicts, and friends and family members of addicts, will find insightful.

    The Bad:
    His "apology" text to Kendrick Lamar about winning the the Grammy for Best Rap Album.

    Dude. I know it probably came from a good place, but it is a little condescending. Also if it was a private text, why did he put it on Instagram?

    The Good: "Glorious" by Macklemore, GEMINI (2017)

    Macklemore celebrates life and family by taking his 100-year-old grandma out on her birthday. This is a sweet upper of a song about making the most out of life and doing the most to make life better for others, especially when you have more than the average person.

    The Bad: How many times I had to hear "Can't Hold Us" from The Heist, 2012

    God help me, I can't even listen to the first few bars of this song without wanting to crush my headphones in my fist. This was used in a commercial for that Steve Jobs movie with Ashton Kutcher, and it played on loop at the subway station by my apartment for actual months.

    The Good:
    "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Heist (2012)

    I just listened to it and guess what? Still a banger! What a fun song. Hey, I hope Macklemore never uses this song to perpetuate any racist stereotypes.

    The Bad: This.

    Macklemore puts out his new album, GEMINI, later this week. Let's hope Macklemore has evolved a little in the past few years. I know I have.

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