It takes a special kind of man to show up on 106 & Park in a profuse fur coat–which he describes as “Hungarian Tiger” before hedging and checking down to the far more humble opossum–and proceed to freestyle about being the “greatest thrift shopper in the rap game” and dry humping Adele, and not only that, but to fuck up the bars part way through, dip the drop, and proceed to finish the verse while magically glossing over the gaff. If ever there was a moment that served as a microcosm of a rapper, this one was Macklemore’s.
The Seattle based emcee is part of the eclectic cabal of rappers who combine solid technical skill with personality laced subject matter. Extreme examples of the form include teen girl Kitty Pryde and Dadaist hip-hop performance art piece/lightning rod Riff Raff; Macklemore could be more accurately described as being of the heart-on-sleeve, emotional rap subgenre most popularized by Singing Drake (as opposed to Hard Drake). While this may sound like a formula for disaster–white rapper, Pacific Northwest, the Pretentious Storm–there is a certain rawness added to Mack’s lines that give one the impression that he quite throughly believes in what he is rhyming, and it is for the most part rather refreshing. Add to this his comedic abilities, and the end result is an underrated rapper with a broad spectrum upon which to make music.
Those jocular skills are on display here, from the extended riff on thrifting–something with which I, as a man who has spent a fair amount of time with hipsters, can thoroughly relate–to being “dope since Baby was kissing Wayne,” and even the disses, these ones aimed at any major labels still standing, are decidedly more tongue-in-cheek than knife-in-hand. But it is the fur coat line that best represents Macklemore, the prodigious, ludicrous swagger being subdued in an act of self deprecation, a brief look in the mirror, before the bars must go on. Self aware artists are something all too rare in this world, and rarer still are the ones who prosper from it.
Macklemore’s Back Room Freestyle receives a PARL
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