“Thrift Shop”


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Adam R. Holz

Album Review

Going into this review, all I knew about the Seattle rapper known as Macklemore (real name: Ben Haggerty) was that he’d caused quite a stir last October with his single Same Love, a song that supported gay marriage and was the first effort from his debut album (with producer Ryan Lewis) The Heist.

With that in mind, I wondered if the title of his second hit, “Thrift Shop” (which has now made it to the Top 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100), perhaps hinted at other social issues like, say, poverty or homelessness.

Uhhh … not so much.

Imagine, if you will, Weird Al and the Beastie Boys teaming up to make a parody about rappers buying clothes at Goodwill for 99 cents, and you’ll be in the right neighborhood here.

The video features Macklemore and friends deliriously combing through the racks and boxes at a big thrift shop, looking for diamonds in the rough and discarded treasures as Macklemore drops profanity-drenched lines like these:

“Rollin’ in, h-lla 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 (p‑‑‑)/But s‑‑‑, it was 99 cents! (Bag it).”

And it just keeps going: “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, f‑‑‑ it man/I am stuntin’ and flossin’ and/Savin’ my money and I’m h-lla happy that’s a bargain, b‑‑ch/I’ma take your grandpa’s style, I’ma take your grandpa’s style.”

The chorus sums up the glory of this low-rent shopping experience thusly: “This is f‑‑‑ing awesome.”

Elsewhere in the song we hear more uses of that obscenity (including some pairings with “mother”), along with “c‑‑k,” “honky” and a reference to looking up a woman’s skirt.

As for social commentary, then, this parody is so drenched in the ridiculous that looking for a deeper meaning seems equally ridiculous. But I just can’t help myself: Macklemore’s effort does feel like a Weird Al-style takedown of the time-worn rap trope of bragging about wearing Guccis, sipping Patrón and blasting down the boulevard in a Bentley or Bugatti.

There’s none of that here. Well, almost none of that. Macklemore does roll up on a turquoise … wait for it … scooter while wearing what looks like a synthetic lion’s mane.

Like I said: ridiculous. And ridiculously profane.

Adam R. Holz

After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.

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