Malcolm Gladwell says that if you want to become a master of something that it’ll take 10,000 hours of dedication.
But this isn’t a Gladwell post. It’s a Macklemore post.
When I first heard Thrift Shop on the radio I knew it was going to be a hit. It’s pretty easy to tell what’s going to resonate with the populous, what songs are going to get played over and over again. I found the intro pretty annoying. But I started listening to the lyrics behind the catchy beat and became really impressed. He took the mechanics of popular hip-hop and subverted the traditional message. Why pay ridiculous amounts of money to buy clothes? I mean, they’re just clothes, right? I enjoyed it; it was fun.
And then I heard Can’t Hold Us and I started to get it. I remember talking to some friends, saying, “Man, how ridiculous must it feel to put out tracks like he does, to have been rapping for years and the one that makes him blow up is almost ridiculous?” They said that he probably didn’t care, that the cash that’s rolling in probably makes up for it all, and that at least it’s getting him exposure.
I think it was a tactic, dropping Thrift Shop before Can’t Hold Us. Pull the audience in with the stuff that makes it comfortable and happy, then gradually start to show them the real stuff. Though I’d love to say otherwise, I think that if Can’t Hold Us dropped before Thrift Shop, even though there’s more vocal styling and skill in that track, he wouldn’t have as large a following today. But that’s part of mastering your craft and your audience.
His most recent album with he album has recurring themes: blood, sweat, and tears. Dreams. Work. Fighting for success. The flaws of consumerism. And appreciating the success once it comes.
Ten Thousand Hours is the name of the first track on The Heist. In in he says, “Ten thousand hours/I’m so damn close I can taste it.” He says he’s not a master yet, but I say he is. He’s doing things with hip-hop that are simply fantastic, and it’s damned inspirational. He talks about drug abuse, alcoholism, even writing about telling his family about his relapse.
Same shit, different day, same struggle
Slow motion as time slips through my knuckles
Nothing beautiful about it
No light at the tunnel
For the people that put the passion before them being comfortable
Kinda funny that his passion, the passion of my friends following their dreams, is the light at the end of my tunnel. That 10,000 hours isn’t going to get any shorter for any of us. So if you’ve got a passion, if you’ve got a craving, then you’d better get started. Do your craft for the sake of the craft, and you’ll inspire people you never even dreamed you would.