On October 12, Macklemore dropped his latest track “Drug Dealer” with singer Ariana Deboo and continued his efforts to help those suffering from addiction. The melodic, slowed down single is a far cry from the upbeat, contagious pop tracks “Dance Off” and “Downtown” that Macklemore and producing partner Ryan Lewis ruled the charts with earlier this year.
With “Drug Dealer”, Macklemore revisits his dark past that was consumed by addiction, now using his platform to shine a light on the prescription drug epidemic that the Seattle rapper feels has largely been ignored.
Not holding back, Macklemore attacks the medical community and their overprescribing of painkillers, also denouncing the legal system’s lack of prosecution in cases of prescription pills leading to death.
Macklemore also name checks a number of artists from the long list of famous faces who have lost their lives to drugs, including Prince, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger, DJ AM and more.
The gritty new video, which debuted late last night, takes a literal look at drug addiction, with singer Ariana Deboo physically drowning in a tub of pills as she sings “My drug dealer was a doctor, doctor / Had the plug from Big Pharma.”
For his part, Macklemore showcases the gritty realities of addiction, with the rapper sweating and throwing up as he experiences the physical toll addiction takes. This distinction between the fun, party lifestyle version of drug use that is often seen in the media and the grim reality is also in the song’s lyrics. Macklemore raps about the harmful glamorization of drugs, notably The Weeknd’s huge 2015 single “Can’t Feel My Face,” saying, “And we dancing to a song about our face gone numb / But I seen homies turn grey, noses drained in blood / I could have been gone.”
“Drug Dealer” isn’t the first time Macklemore has shared his struggle with drug addiction in his music. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ 2010 track “Otherside” chronicles Macklemore’s introduction to alcohol and drugs, while 2016’s “Kevin” featuring Leon Bridges was an ode to Macklemore’s late friend who lost his life to drugs. The same track, which was featured on the group’s sophomore album This Unruly Mess I’ve Made also takes aim at Big Pharma, criticizing drug companies for getting patients hooked on painkillers.
Most recently, Macklemore shot a documentary with MTV that focuses on the opioid crisis in America, with the film including Macklemore’s interview with President Obama and their discussion around how to help those addicted to prescription drugs.
Watch Macklemore spread his inspiring message of strength and positivity during the broadcast premiere of WE Day Toronto on Monday, November 28 at 11 p.m. ET on MTV and Much, with a special encore presentation on Saturday, December 10 at 7 p.m. ET on CTV.