New Stuff: Thrift Shop

Despite all his accomplishments, one thing Eminem could never do was shake off the stigma of the “White Rapper” label. When “My Name Is” dropped, anybody could tell by Em’s vocal inflections and pipsqueak delivery that he was certainly atypical and probably not black. He became one of the GOATs, but thirteen years later, a white rapper is still a novelty, and we can count the listenable ones on our fingers.

New sensation Macklemore is going to be forever linked with Eminem, which is unfortunate, because their styles are nothing alike. For one, you would probably need to see Mack instead of hear him first to realize that he’s white, because his delivery doesn’t deviate too greatly from anybody else on Top 40 today (although this may have to do more with a culture of improved pronunciation in rappers, Big Sean anyone?). He’s just as silly as Em, but not nearly as provocative, relying instead on wonderful production and punchlines to catch the ears of anyone who ever professed to liking Asher Roth (ew). He’s not as deft as, say, Kendrick Lamar, but there’s something to be said about a white independent rapper who just topped the iTunes chart. His appeal is immutable, but it unquestionably starts with his race. He’d be good enough to skirt by on the strength of his tracks if his identity remained invisible, but much like his predecessor he probably wouldn’t be getting this much attention without the novelty of his skin color. He is in the precarious position of simultaneously having nothing and everything to do with Eminem.

Regardless of race politics and hip hop, “Thrift Shop” is a fun debut, definitely this year’s “Gucci Gucci” (boo dissenters, that song rocks). The subject’s levity only improves with that absurd video, certainly VMA worthy. Ryan Lewis’s beat merits a repeat listen even if Mack doesn’t impress you with his slightly above average lyrical skills. It’s not a classic, but it does remind us how fun hip hop is supposed to be, even if the messenger is white.

 

 

 

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