First Hit #1: May 18, 2013
Can’t Hold Us isn’t really the follow up to Thrift Shop. Oh sure, it hit later, and it follows the general pattern of an artist going a bit more serious and thoughtful after smashing through with a novelty single, but that wasn’t the plan of either Macklemore or Lewis. Hell, the single itself was initially released in 2011. But, as a follow up, it’s not as though the duo could have actually planned it better, since this is a pretty good follow up to a novelty hit.
The strength of it is that unlike what I mostly complained about with Thrift Song, this is something where it seems like Macklemore put a bit of effort into the lyrics and the delivery. He isn’t serious, he still prizes a humorous turn of phrase, but here there’s no obvious lyrical clunkers, and his unrelenting flow helps hide any weaknesses that might be there. This is the song that proves Macklemore can rap, and he’s actually got something to say which he finds meaningful. It is quite referential – direct name drop to Wu Tang, references to Kanye West – but it’s a respectful referential, and it does come across that Macklemore considers this an attempt at a breakthrough, an attempt to inspire via music. It didn’t work quite as planned, but this is a much better showcase for him than his actual breakthrough.