Hey Macklemore, can we go thrift shopping?

Thrift Shop is “blowin’ up the charts,” as the kids say, and I’m a big fan of the song. It’s got a good beat, you can dance to it and, more importantly, it preaches some great social commentary on pop culture and it’s effect on consumerism.

Before we dive too much deeper into this, let’s review the tape, shall we?

Fun, right? Now let’s review the lyrics:

 “Thrift Shop” (feat. Wanz)
Hey, Macklemore! Can we go thrift shopping?

What, what, what, what… [x7]

[Hook]
I’m gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I – I – I’m hunting, looking for a come-up
This is fucking awesome

[Verse 1]
Now, walk into the club like, “What up, I got a big cock!”
I’m so pumped about some shit from the thrift shop
Ice on the fringe, it’s so damn frosty
That people like, “Damn! That’s a cold ass honkey.”
Rollin’ in, hella deep, headin’ to the mezzanine,
Dressed in all pink, ‘cept my gator shoes, those are green
Draped in a leopard mink, girls standin’ next to me
Probably shoulda washed this, smells like R. Kelly’s sheets
(Piiisssssss)
But shit, it was ninety-nine cents! (Bag it)
Coppin’ it, washin’ it, ’bout to go and get some compliments
Passin’ up on those moccasins someone else’s been walkin’ in
Bummy and grungy, fuck it man
I am stuntin’ and flossin’ and
Savin’ my money and I’m hella happy that’s a bargain, bitch
I’ma take your grandpa’s style, I’ma take your grandpa’s style,
No for real – ask your grandpa – can I have his hand-me-downs? (Thank you)
Velour jumpsuit and some house slippers
Dookie brown leather jacket that I found diggin’
They had a broken keyboard, I bought a broken keyboard
I bought a skeet blanket, then I bought a kneeboard
Hello, hello, my ace man, my Miller
John Wayne ain’t got nothing on my fringe game, hell no
I could take some Pro Wings, make them cool, sell those
The sneaker heads would be like “Aw, he got the Velcros”

[Hook x2]

[Verse 2]
What you know about rockin’ a wolf on your noggin?
What you knowin’ about wearin’ a fur fox skin?
I’m digging, I’m digging, I’m searching right through that luggage
One man’s trash, that’s another man’s come-up
Thank your granddad for donating that plaid button-up shirt
‘Cause right now I’m up in her skirt
I’m at the Goodwill, you can find me in the (Uptons)
I’m that, I’m that sucker searchin’ in that section (Uptons)
Your grammy, your aunty, your momma, your mammy
I’ll take those flannel zebra jammies, second-hand, I rock that motherfucker
The built-in onesie with the socks on that motherfucker
I hit the party and they stop in that motherfucker
They be like, “Oh, that Gucci – that’s hella tight.”
I’m like, “Yo – that’s fifty dollars for a T-shirt.”
Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a T-shirt – that’s just some ignorant bitch (shit)
I call that getting swindled and pimped (shit)
I call that getting tricked by a business
That shirt’s hella dough
And having the same one as six other people in this club is a hella don’t
Peep game, come take a look through my telescope
Trying to get girls from a brand? Then you hella won’t
Then you hella won’t

(Goodwill… poppin’ tags… yeah!)

[Hook]

[Bridge x2]
I wear your granddad’s clothes
I look incredible
I’m in this big ass coat
From that thrift shop down the road

[Hook]

Is that your grandma’s coat?
I feel that right off the bat, just from the name of the song, you should be able to tell that this is not going to be your typical hip hop number where it sounds more like product placement than a song. And that’s an important point to my argument. I put forth to you, reader, that modern hip hop and pop music has drifted into a position where it is more important to mention things like “Benjamins” and cars than emotional connection and story. I don’t want to state, definitively, that this is bad or wrong. Art, in my opinion, cannot be bad or wrong it just may or may not be to your taste. “Product Placement Music,” or PPM as it will be referred to in this post, is not necessarily to my taste, but I’d be a filthy liar if i said I didn’t listen to or like a lot of it. It is easy to name check artists who mention brands, going back to the 80’s when Run DMC who sang about “My Adidas” to the constant mentions of Cristal and diamonds by just about everybody, including Jay Z. The push to show off conspicuous displays of wealth  dominates the lyrics of modern pop and hip hop. 

As with all trends, there will be those who reinforce it and there will be those who react against it. With “Thrift Shop” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have shot a warning across the bow with a hit that directly addresses blatant consumerism in a tight beat.

At first glance it might be easy to laugh off “Thrift Shop” as nothing more than a white rapper novelty song designed to get him on the charts. It worked for Eminem for a few albums allowing him to get into the heads of mainstream America with hits like “My Name Is” but then following up with the deeper, more troubling songs like “Stan” (although, it is worth pointing out that there is far more subtext to ‘My Name Is” than this post gives credit for – that could be a whole different discussion). It wasn’t until I watched the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis  Tiny Desk Concert that I changed my mind. The first song, “Same Love” is specifically calling out the homophobia present in hip hop. There’s no if, ands or buts; Macklemore has a message and he’s delivering it in a fun package.

So let’s take a look at the song overall. “Thrift Shop” starts off with typical bravado, and then quickly draws in the listener with humor referencing R. Kelly peeing on things and how cheap stuff is while also asking for your, yes YOUR, grandpa’s hand me downs. The hook identifies blatant displays of wealth as ridiculous by saying, “I’m gonna pop some tags Only got twenty dollars in my pocket.” For those not familiar with the phrase “popping tags” it is defined by the Urban Dictionary as: “buying shit…poppin’ the tags off of merchandise.” Instead of Bentlys and Rolexes he’s buying broken keyboards and footie pajamas.

But the point really comes home here:

They be like, “Oh, that Gucci – that’s hella tight.”
I’m like, “Yo – that’s fifty dollars for a T-shirt.”
Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a T-shirt – that’s just some ignorant bitch (shit)
I call that getting swindled and pimped (shit)
I call that getting tricked by a business
That shirt’s hella dough
And having the same one as six other people in this club is a hella don’t
Conformity through purchase, not only is it wasteful, but also unimaginative.

For the record, I’m not advocating that we all stop buying expensive cars and jewelry  I love the way well made clothes fit and feel and they usually cost a bundle and I’m not much of a car guy, but I’ve driven some pretty bitchin’ vehicles and, while I may not want to own them, I can appreciate them. But I think that perspective is important, we, as a society, need to put the right kind of importance on luxury – that is to say almost none as far as I’m concerned. The items themselves mean very little, but the work you do to be able to get those things can mean so much more.

Big ups to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for making a statement. I paid for the song, that’s my way of adding to those $20 in their pockets.

See you next time!

If you’d like to get the song you can download it from Amazon MP3!

Here’s the original explicit version:

Here’s the radio friendly version:
And here’s the whole album:

1 Comment

Filed under music, music video, social commentary

One Response to Hey Macklemore, can we go thrift shopping?

  1. Liz

    I heard this song for the first time (on my way home from shopping at Goodwill, actually), and thought it was hilarious. My first thought was “I wonder if Curtis has heard this, it’s right up his alley.”

Leave a Reply to Liz Cancel reply