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Thrift Shopper Raps About Real Life

The opening scene of Macklemore’s latest track, “Drug Dealer,” is raw, gritty, and in the emotional darkness that surrounds drug addiction.

The video kicks off with Macklemore sitting naked on the shower floor, with the water from the shower head providing a security blanket to the emotional toll of drug abuse. Many critics say that Macklemore isn’t a real rapper or that he’s a sellout for putting out tracks that spark social change like “Same Love,” or for the goofy, penny-pinching anthems “Thrift Shop.” However, the man’s real goal is to share his reality through authentic confessionals to help support others.

Macklemore’s fans know that he is a recovered drug addict and alchoholic. His alcoholism traces back to being 13-14 years old. He soon became fully addicted to oxycontin and codeine later on. According to an interview with MTV, “If it wasn’t for that rehab center, I wouldn’t be here today and my involvement with the recovery community is very important to me,” Macklemore said. He goes on to talk about how Oxycontin (synthetic heroin) was the strongest drug he’d ever used, and would wake up sweating through his bed sheets. In “Otherside”, he quotes his usage of Oxycontin and the impulses and confusing feelings associated with its usage. “Liquid affix and it comes with a cost/Wake up, cold sweat, scratchin’, itchin’”

The video goes on to portray all of these issues. The loneliness and control that drugs have over a person is portrayed in the shower scene. The viewer can tell that the person isn’t looking to actually bathe in the shower but take a time out and let the comfortable space of the shower take care of them. The chorus is sung by Arianna De Boo and the video captures her singing in a bathtub with millions of prescription drugs running over her as if they are consuming her. Macklemore is also shown in some shots going through withdrawal symptoms, like vomiting and sweating and restlessness.

“Drug Dealer” is a step in the right direction for exploring social topics through music. The song and video aren’t sugar-coated or fake, they’re artistic and explorative. Macklemore does a phenomenal job in telling his own story and his own opinions in regards to pharmaceutical issues. One line says, “the doctor is my drug dealer”. The point-blank and blunt chorus are what America needs in order to wake up and face the pharmaceutical-pandemic that’s sweeping the country.

The viewer is stricken with awe and empathy after seeing a human go through such horrific physical and mental effects caused by addiction. The video isn’t a sellout nor constructed persona of a wannabe rapper. Macklemore has lived through addiction and is using his music as a platform to start a dialogue about addiction. He differs from other rappers in the fact that he doesn’t try to glorify drug use nor negate it, he wants to tell his story and change lives and for that “Drug Dealer” is the shift in the conversation that America needs.

Ashley Bauler
Ashley Bauler

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