Hats off to a second-hand single that’s far from shabby
RIGHT NOW, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, the brace of rappers from Seattle, are sitting pretty at the top of various charts worldwide with Thrift Shop.
We’ve heard plenty of hip-hop cuts with pop appeal in the past and Thrift Shop has all the necessary elements to fit squarely in that realm. Lyrically, it makes a change from listening to rappers going through the boxfresh brand clothes in their wardrobes.
The temptation here is to hype it as an overnight sensation, but that’s to ignore the work Macklemore and Lewis have done over the past few years. They’ve toured like beasts – they played sold-out shows at Dublin’s Twisted Pepper back in 2011, for example – and have built up a fervent fanbase.
Yet the secret of Thrift Store’s success has to do with radio airplay and here’s where the story gets interesting. It’s the fifth single to be lifted from their 2012 album The Heist. Yes, the fifth single – it took them this long to get around to their career gamechanger.
What made Thrift Store take off was the fact that radio stations decided to get behind it. Once a couple of stations started playing it, every radio station jumped on board.
It’s worth noting that despite all the talk of how touring and social media can help an act build and engage an audience, the real tipping point comes when mainstream radio begins to play the hell out of the tune. It’s why acts and labels spend so much time and money plámásing radio stations to get behind their single. And it’s why bands always cry foul when radio stations blank them.
Radio still has that power and it will be some time before that state of affairs changes.
Cut-price chic: Ryan Lewis , left, and Macklemore