Ben “Macklemore” Haggerty doesn’t like to spend $50 on a T-shirt. That much is clear upon listening to “Thrift Shop,” a four-minute ode to the joys of finding a bargain that’s on the Seattle hip-hop artist’s new album, “The Heist.”
The 29-year-old’s home is decorated with thrift store taxidermy, furniture and lamps. In his closets hang fringe jackets and outerwear of purple, red and blue leather.
When he performs Sunday at the Fillmore in The City, he will no doubt wear his fringe jacket adorned with the face of David Bowie.
While Macklemore painted Bowie himself, the jacket was a thrift shop find.
“The gems of a thrift shop are found when you have no expectations,” he says. “I like to look in the women’s section, I like to look in the toy section. You never know what you’re going to find, and it’s just about being aware and present (about) what pops up. You’ve got to be open to whatever the universe is going to give you that’s used.”
The rapper and producer-DJ Ryan Lewis, who were on the cover of hip-hop magazine XXL’s 2012 up-and-comers issue — are not above trying to get a good deal.
But the concept is not just played out for laughs. Macklemore’s message is that expensive clothes, bling and other traditional connotations of wealth shouldn’t change people.
The insight plays out on “Jimmy Iovine,” a fictional account about the rapper being offered a record deal from the head of Interscope Records before he realizes he’s better off as an independent artist.
“It was always a dream to be signed to a record label and to be under the umbrella of a great franchise,” he says. “Once we worked so hard to get to the point where record labels were interested in us, (that’s) when I realized that I didn’t want what they had to offer.”
And on “Wings,” Macklemore recounts a tale about his childhood desire to own a pair of Nike Air Jordans, believing they could make him fly, only to realize they are just an expensive pair of shoes.
“It’s a brand, and it’s the way we perceive ourselves,” he says. “They’re actually not real, tangible things that have any real impact on our lives except on how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us.”
Whether it’s ridiculing hip-hop’s bling culture and anti-gay sentiments, or speaking candidly about how drugs hurt him and his family in the past, Macklemore has never shied away from getting personal in his music.
He says it’s “the only way that I know how to write music. It’s where everything comes from: being honest, first and foremost with myself, and then inevitably with the audience.”