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Music / Macklemore

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He's gonna pop some tags, but he's only got twenty dollars in his pocket.

Benjamin Hammond Haggerty (born June 19, 1983), known professionally as Macklemore, is a Seattle-based conscious/alternative hip-hop artist.

After finishing a bachelor's degree, he decided to pursue his musical interests and took a job at a juvenile detention facility, where he was involved in a project called "Gateways", engaging troubled youth through rap. In 2000 he released the EP Open Your Eyes under the moniker "Professor Macklemore". Five years later he shortened the name to the current Macklemore and his full-length debut,The Language of My World, was released.

In 2012, he and producer Ryan Lewis released his first studio album, The Heist, which, despite going under the radar upon release, became a critical and overnight success after the runaway success of its fifth and final single "Thrift Shop". His songs "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us" both peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, The former even won the Triple J Hottest 100 for that year, and his album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200, although neither were promoted or advertised on any mainstream media. In 2014, Macklmore won four Grammys, including Best New Artist, Best Rap Album (The Heist), Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance ("Thrift Shop").

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are also on their own independent music label. In August 2019, Macklemore and his wife became minority owners of Seattle Sounders FC in Major League Soccer.


With Ryan Lewis

  • The Vs. (EP; 2009)
  • The Vs. Redux (EP; 2010)
  • The Heist (2012)
  • This Unruly Mess I've Made (2016)


  • Open Your Eyes (mixtape; 2000)
  • The Language of My World (2005)
  • The Unplanned Mixtape (mixtape; 2009)
  • Gemini (2017)
  • Ben (2023)

Macklemore and his music display examples of:

  • Album Title Drop:
    • At the very end of "Ten Thousand Hours", the first track in The Heist, he says "Welcome to the heist" repeatedly.
    • In "Jimmy Iovine", he exclaims "heist!" while describing sneaking into an office building.
    • Happens twice near the end of "Light Tunnels" on This Unruly Mess I've Made.
  • ...And 99: In "Thrift Shop", he exclaims, "...but, shit, it was ninety-nine cents!"
  • Brand Names Are Better: Subverted in The Heist:
    • "Wing$" talks about the many violent consequences of materialism and celebrity obsession, specifically Jordan sneakers, which got his cousin slain.
    • Mocked much more lightly in "Thrift Shop":
      Fifty dollars for a T-shirt? That's just some ignorant bitch shit / I call that getting swindled and pimped (shit!) / I call that being tricked by a business / Peek game, come take a look through my telescope / Trying to get girls with a brand, then you hella won't...
    • "Jimmy Iovine" is Macklemore talking about him meeting with a record company, who were trying to make him into a brand name at the cost of leaving him and any artists who helped him with only seven percent of profits, and holding him in debt if he can't sell a hundred thousand records. In this day and age, you're lucky if you sell a thousand. Needless to say, Macklemore doesn't take on the deal.
    • The car Macklemore raps about in "White Walls" isn't some ridiculously pricey status symbol car like a Bugatti or Maybach as is popular in today's rap culture, but an old school Cadillac like his Grandpa used to have.
    • "Neon Cathedral" name-drops Monarch vodka, a bottom-shelf well spirit popular in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Brick Joke: One of his lines in "Thrift Shop" is "Whatchu know about rockin' the wolf on your noggin?" At the beginning of the music video for "Can't Hold Us", Macklemore is indeed wearing a wolf on his noggin.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: While in his Raven Bowie personality (in the songs "And We Danced" and "Castle") Macklemore uses a mock British accent.
  • Camp: "Thrift Shop" is a light-hearted track with a not-too-serious music video, and both "And We Danced" and "Castle" features the over-the-top alter ego Raven Bowie.
  • Car Song: "White Walls".
  • Carpe Diem: The entire point of "Good Old Days." You're going to grow older, the world is going to change, and those moments you dismiss as unimportant right now will become the things you wish you did later on in life.
  • Cool Bike: "Downtown" is about buying a moped and going downtown. The video for it has an assortment of mopeds and motorcycles in it, including one with a moosehead mounted on the front. And then comes a motorcycle-drawn chariot!
  • Doting Parent: He has several songs dedicated to his daughter Sloane, most notably Growing Up. In 2023, he released NO BAD DAYS, with Sloane directing the music video.
  • Five-Finger Discount: Implied in "Thrift Shop": "Popping tags" is sometimes used as a euphemism for this.
  • Gay Aesop: "Same Love". The song talks about how Ben used to think he was gay, but wasn't. However, he openly talks about being pro-gay-marriage, saying "damn right I support it" and that "America still fears what we don't know" when it comes to gay people. The music video also shows two elderly gay men going through their lives together.
  • The Garfunkel: Ryan Lewis.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He's been friends with his producer, Ryan Lewis, for a good number of years. He's mentioned in "Jimmy Iovine".
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: He got rid of his trademark undercut hairstyle after it became popular among some Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist groups.
  • Lucky Charms Title: "Wing$" on The Heist album.
  • Motor Mouth: He can be this in some of his songs. "Can't Hold Us" in particular has him rap really fast.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • "Thrift Shop" again.
    • "Downtown" is about getting incredibly excited for riding on scooters and going, well, downtown.
  • Nerdcore: Not a straight example, but "Thrift Shop" and especially "Downtown" show signs of this by rapping hardcore about some of the cheesiest, non-gangsta things one can do.
  • Not Hyperbole: After saying he's going to "take your Grandad's style" in "Thrift Shop", he promptly adds "No, for real, ask your Grandpa, can I have his hand-me-downs?"
  • Obvious Stunt Double: "Downtown" is all about riding on scooters and bikes. However, in precisely one scene in the "Downtown" video Macklemore is wearing a bandanna over his face. Not coincidentally, it's the one time he's doing a trick on his bike.
  • Ordinary People's Music Video: "Thrift Shop" is basically the Trope Codifier for music.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: In "Thrift Shop," he's "dressed all in pinks, 'cept for my gator shoes, those're green."
  • Rhyming with Itself: "Thrift Shop" rhymes "motherfucker" with itself in the second verse:
    The built-in onesie with the socks on the motherfucker
    I hit the party and they stop in that motherfucker
    • Additionally, he also rhymes "broken keyboard" with itself in the first verse, albeit in the same bar.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Zebra jammies, big ass coats, and velour jumpsuits are all mentioned in "Thrift Shop". The video features more outrageous outfits.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: Observe.
  • Sequel Song: His song "White Privilege" spawned a sequel - the appropriately titled "White Privilege II".
  • Shout-Out:
    • The video for "White Walls" includes clips of Macklemore at Dick's Drive-In and driving on Broadway Avenue, two places prominently featured in guest artist and fellow Seattlite Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Posse on Broadway."
  • Singer Namedrop:
    • In "Can't Hold Us", "Macklemore" is chanted.
    • In "Same Love", Macklemore drops his first name, Ben.
    • In "Jimmy Iovine", he mentions both himself and Ryan Lewis while talking as the recording company president.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: The normal radio edit of "Thrift Shop" includes a rooster sound. Take a guess what it's censoring.
  • Spinoff: Mary Lambert's single "She Keeps Me Warm" is an expanded version of the hook she sings on "Same Love".
  • Take That!:
    • In "Jimmy Iovine", Macklemore turns down a snobby record executive who can't remember his name and gives him a terrible contract. Considering how successful he became due to cultivating local and internet fanbases, his career is sort of an example of this trope as well.
    • "Thrift Shop" as a whole is one to the high-spending, materialistic lifestyle of modern rappers in general. You don't need to be rich to look awesome. The lyrics feature a more direct one: "I prolly shouda washed this, it smells like R. Kelly's sheets... pissssss..."
    • "Same Love" calls out the majority of the rap genre's artists and their fans for being homophobic.
    • "White Privilege Part II" calls out those who deny that white privilege exists, saying that more people are afraid of being branded as racists than there are people who actually want to do something about racism.
  • The Moral Substitute: So you want to listen to a photogenic white rapper with bleached blond hair, who raps in a witty, fast-paced flow, who makes Grammy-award-winning pop crossover hip-hop with funny and brightly coloured music videos, but you find that guy too politically incorrect and gross? Well, this white rapper's famous song is a statement against homophobia.
  • Toilet Humour: Macklmore's Instagram video about toilet etiquette.
  • White Guilt: "White Privilege" is partially about his own self-consciousness as a white rapper capitalizing on a style of music rooted in black suffrage to predominantly white audiences while plenty of better black rappers and the fans who can relate to them better are left in the dust. It's earned him the criticism that he's playing the victim card.
  • White Man's Burden: Both "White Privilege" songs, and to a lesser extent "Same Love," have earned him criticism for speaking out on a subject matter than he can only ever have a limited understanding of.