Macklemore and Ryan Lewis hit the streets with hip-hop pioneers Grandmaster Caz, Kool Moe Dee and Melle Mel in the humongous, charmingly ridiculous video for “Downtown,” which also features Foxy Shazam vocalist, Eric Nally.
The clip and punchy, funky track bear an initial resemblance to Macklemore and Lewis’ breakout hit “Thrift Shop,” opening with the Seattle rapper spitting bars about buying a moped before linking up with Caz, Kool and Melle Mel (who have previously never appeared on the same song together). The group traipse and cruise through the street of Spokane, Washington, and sharp eyes will catch a quick cameo from Mariners great Ken Griffey Jr.
Halfway through, though, both the clip and song take on shades of West Side Story: Nally enters on a chariot shaped like an eagle’s head pulled by multiple hogs, belting over a bombastic, theatrical piano breakdown. His and Macklemore’s respective motley crews ultimately meet in the middle of an intersection, and while there’s some fronting, a Sharks and Jets-esque rumble never breaks out.
Instead, the clip takes another peculiar turn, as Macklemore alternately dances in the streets with his boys and rides around town with his girl. Finally, the parties meet again for one massive parade through the streets of Spokane.
The “Downtown” video was directed by Lewis, Macklemore (real name Ben Haggerty) and Jason Koenig, while Seattle-based b-boy crew, Massive Monkees, were responsible for the slick choreography.
While the song follows the previously released “Growing Up (Sloane’s Song),” featuring Ed Sheeran, “Downtown” marks the first official single from Macklemore and Lewis’ follow-up to their massive 2012 debut, The Heist. The song took over a year to complete, with Macklemore and Lewis drawing inspiration not only from hip-hop’s early years, but the outlandish arena rock of the the Seventies and Eighties. The pair will debut the track live at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday.