For a brief, feverish time in the early 2010s, America was obsessed with the Seattle rapper Macklemore. It started with a catchy song, 2012’s “Thrift Shop,” a commercial juggernaut about buying ostentatious clothes for very small amounts of money. The track has aged strangely: You won’t see it on many Best Songs of the 2010s that roll out over the next six weeks or so, despite its then-endless radio play. “Can’t Hold Us,” a blandly inspirational song perfect for soundtracking Microsoft commercials, fared better. It’s not a good song, but you can still sometimes hear, over the PA system at a sports stadium, its pounding piano chords and Macklemore’s exaltations to, like, get out of bed. It’s currently closing in on a billion streams on Spotify.
It all faded, of course. As Macklemore likely knew from the beginning, he wasn’t the best rapper in the world when he was at his peak: He publicly apologized after winning a Grammy. After his stretch of hits, he was replaced on pop radio by other limited-run sensations, like Meghan Trainor or Psy, before receding from the public consciousness. I haven’t listened to a Macklemore song — willingly or unwillingly — in years at this point. But that might change soon.
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On Monday morning, the rapper announced that he was now very into magic. “I’ve been doing magic for about 2.5 years now,” he said in a statement provided to HipHopDX. I do not know whether this is true; it could certainly be a poorly executed prank. However, it does make a certain amount of sense. Macklemore was always corny. The “Thrift Store” video features him living out a good-natured frat brother’s wildest dreams of getting to wear over-the-top outfits and having it only fuel the party around him. Another way of putting it is he was always earnest — happy for the attention, but also eager to prove that he had substance, that he had something to say (His third enormous hit, “Same Love,” is a heart-on-sleeve attempt from a straight musician to create an LGBTQ anthem). Magicians seem like (largely) earnest people. If what Macklemore has to say now has to do with magic, then I’m listening.
Assuming that Macklemore’s pivot to magic is real, and the album he’s planning on releasing is actually about the craft of magic, this could be something great. I recently attended a corporate event that employed a magician, which I was decidedly not into until they repaired a torn card while it was in my hand. I now think magic is amazing, and since Macklemore’s announcement this morning I’ve decided that I would, in fact, listen to the album he’s describing. Let’s get some references to Ricky Jay in the mix, some metaphors about disappearing in a box, double-time flows about hiding a dove in your sleeve — this all sounds fun, and a lane in which Macklemore seems primed to excel in.
If this is all a joke, and Macklemore releases an album not about magic, you will simply never hear me weigh in on the topic of his career again.
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