Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (feat. Wanz) -- "Thrift Shop" (2012)

I wear your granddad's clothes
I look incredible
I'm in this big-ass coat
From that thrift shop down the road

A lot of guys would lawyer up if a young rapper appropriated one their best catchphrases -- a catchphrase that had become a veritable meme.  But 2 or 3 lines is not most guys.  (HELL no!)

Be my guest, Macklemore.  Take "big-ass" and use it as if it were your own.  My attorneys won't be sending you a nasty cease-and-desist letter, demanding that you withdraw "Thrift Shop" from distribution and reserving all our legal remedies even if you do.

Macklemore in one of his big-ass coats
Let's face it.  I steal a lot of sh*t from other people -- including Shakespeare and that guy who wrote the Bible -- so I've got no business getting all high and mighty when someone steals sh*t from me.  Life is very short, and there's no time for fussing and fighting, my friend! (Yeah, I steal a lot of sh*t from the Beatles, too!)

Macklemore (real name: Ben Haggerty) is a 29-year-old white rapper from Seattle.  He and his producer, Ryan Lewis, released their first album, The Heist, in October 2012.

"Thrift Shop" was the fifth and final single from that album, and it made it to number one on the Billboard "U.S. Rap Songs" chart.  The music video for "Thrift Shop" has been viewed over 50 million times on Youtube.

"Thrift Shop" is about shopping at a thrift shop.  (Don't look so surprised.)  I'm not sure if shopping at thrift shops and wearing your "finds" to the club is what the kids are doing today, or whether this song is just one big-ass goof.  To tell the truth, I don't particularly care.

Macklemore is obviously very knowledgeable about how thrift shops and thrift-shop shoppers operate, as the opening lines of this song demonstrate:

I'm gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I'm, I'm, I'm hunting, looking for a come-up
This is f*cking awesome!

"Pop some tags" means the singer is planning to switch the price tags on the thrift-shop clothes he desires with the tags from lower-priced items so he can maximize what he gets for his $20.

Big-ass thrift store
"Come up" is an expression meaning "gain an advantage" -- here, the singer is in search of bargains, and his strategy of switching price tags is one way to accomplish that goal.

The last line in this verse -- "This is f*cking awesome" -- is a really f*cking awesome line.  It's also self-explanatory.

Macklemore is not a sucker for a designer label.  He scoffs at a companion who speaks admiringly of an overpriced Gucci t-shirt:

Fifty dollars for a t-shirt?
That's just some ignorant b*tch sh*t
I call that getting swindled and pimped

I agree with you one-hundred-and-ten percent, Macklemore.  Of course, I also believe that paying ten dollars to download an album is some ignorant b*tch sh*t when you can just get the CD from the public library.

Click here to read a GQ interview with Macklemore titled "The Macklemore Bible of Thrift-Store Shopping."

My Joplin friends and I were way ahead of the hip-hop crowd when it came to shopping at thrift shops.  Forty years ago, we used to scour the local Goodwill store for old gas-station attendant work shirts.

We didn't care whether the shirt came from a Shell or an Exxon or a Phillips 66 station.  We were interested solely in the names that were sewn on the shirts.  I found a shirt that had belonged to a "Buzz."  One of my friends proudly wore an "Oscar" shirt.

Eventually the Goodwill store figured out the market value of the name patches and began to cut them off the shirts and sell them separately.

One night, "Buzz" and "Oscar" were doing a little beer drinking in a redneck joint in Riverton, Kansas, and became involved in a bit of a verbal altercation with some locals.  We went out to my car, where I had concealed a switchblade I had purchased on a one-day trip to Nuevo Laredo and smuggled across the border.  

But that's a story for another day -- and another song.

Here's "Thrift Shop":

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