Macklemore – Drug Dealer featuring Ariana DeBoo

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.

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