Track Review: Macklemore ft. Ariana DeBoo, ‘Drug Dealer’
Macklemore delivers an exceptional, socially-relevant track about the dangers of prescription drug use on ‘Drug Dealer,’ featuring Ariana DeBoo.
Macklemore has become one of the go-to, socially-conscious rappers. He received plenty of flak for beating critical darling Kendrick Lamar for Grammys, but admitted himself he was surprised to beat the West Coast rapper. Regardless, he excels in the social realm, hence why single “Drug Dealer” exemplifies excellence. “Drug Dealer” is a featured track from an MTV documentary about the opioid epidemic. He enlists the services of Ariana DeBoo.
The track opens with soulful “oohs,” setting the tone for something dramatic and highly important. The record warns of the dangers of drugs, specifically prescription drugs. Macklemore references famous musicians who were victims of drugs/prescription drug overdoses:
“That’s Prince, Michael, and Whitney, that’s Amy, Ledger and Pimp C / That’s Yams, that’s DJ A.M…”
Macklemore is initially accompanied by soulful piano, with some background vocals. The beat enters in predictably, but feels right. His flow remains as consistent as ever. DeBoo handles the meaningful, memorable hook:
“My drug dealer was a doctor, doctor / had the plug from Big Pharma, Pharma / he said that he would heal me, heal me / but he only gave me problems, problems / My drug dealer was a doctor, doctor / had the plug from Big Pharma, Pharma /I think he trying to kill me, kill me / he tried to kill me for a dollar, dollar.”
Notably, Macklemore takes a potential shot at The Weeknd:
“Murderers who will never face the judge / and we dancin’ to a song about our face goin’ numb…”
The song referenced by the MC is “Can’t Feel My Face,” one of the biggest hits of 2015. Even so, it was a song that disguised cocaine use like it were a romantic relationship. The song was nominated for two Grammys.
A number of meaningful lyrics from Macklemore appear throughout. On verse one, he references the dangers of prescription meds, corruptness of the leaders in the epidemic, and pharmaceuticals themselves.
“They said it wasn’t a gateway drug / my homie was takin’ subs and he ain’t wake up / the whole while, these billionaires, they kicked up / paying out congress so we take their drugs.”
“Take Actavis off the market, jack the price up on the syrup / but Purdue Pharma’s ‘bout to move that work.”
On the second verse, Macklemore goes through the psychology of addiction, specifically the notion of never say never:
“I said I’d never use a needle, but sure, f*ck it / I’m caught up, I’m on one, I’m nauseous / no options, exhausted / this is not what I started / walkin’ carcass, I lost everything I wanted / my blinds drawn, too gone to leave this apartment.”
In the third and final verse, he references numerous prescription drugs, proclaiming them as the source of potential death:
“Death certificate signed the prenup / ain’t no coming back from this Percocet / Actavis, Ambien, Adderall, Xanax binge / best friends with the thing that’s killing me…”
As always, Macklemore creates a socially, meaningful song with “Drug Dealer.” He paints a picture using facts about the seriousness of the opioid epidemic that everyone should examine carefully. Musically, it is well produced and his flow is exceptional. Ariana DeBoo proves to be a capable collaborator on the hook.