Historically, I’ve had mixed feelings about Macklemore.
Like many people from the Pacific Northwest, he was on my radar (at least peripherally) even before The Heist came out: we had heard songs like “Otherside,” “The Town,” and “My Oh My,” and everyone knew at least one Seattleite who was a big fan.
When The Heist came out, I quickly joined the ranks of fandom, myself. Songs like “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us” were catchy, sure – but I reveled in the brutal honesty of B-sides like “Make The Money” and “Thin Line” and the goosebump-inducing beauty of Mary Lambert’s vocals on “Same Love.” More than anything though, you could feel the ethos of Seattle in that album – or at least, what I’ve always envisioned Seattle’s ethos to be – a city that was always just a little bit bigger and a little bit more somber than Portland.
I really liked The Heist – which is why it was a bummer when This Unruly Mess I’ve Made came out earlier this year and I didn’t really like it. It’s a fine album, and there are a few stand-out tracks (“Kevin” is probably my favorite), but overall, it felt less cohesive, a little too jokey, and overly self-conscious. (I think this is often a problem for underdog artists who finally make it big: Mickey Avalon’s boasts on his eponymous debut were funny because it was obvious that they were somewhat facetious; once he became semi-famous, the schtick lost its luster.)
All of this is a roundabout way of getting to my ultimate point: I really like this track. I’ve listened to it probably twenty or thirty times this week. Maybe it’s the sparseness of the arrangement; maybe it’s the on-point vocals from Ariana DeBoo; maybe it’s Macklemore’s scrappy willingness to go toe-to-toe with Big Pharma. Whatever it is, it feels like old-school Macklemore, and I dig it.