Macklemore’s new video opens with the rapper sitting butt-naked in the shower. It’s not a sexy shot though, but a reflection of the rapper at his lowest point — in the throes of withdraw. Macklemore is no stranger to the specter of drugs and addiction, has been fairly open about his own struggles with substance abuse since the beginning of his career, but this is the starkest portrayal of that struggle yet.
In the clip, which is directed by Jason Koenig, the Seattle rapper addresses the way big pharmaceutical companies have enabled so many unsuspecting people to become addicted to drugs, particularly legal drugs that are often prescribed without proper warnings or information about their addictive properties.
There’s a subtle shot at The Weeknd here — “And we dancin’ to a song about our face goin’ numb / But I seen homies turn grey, noses draining blood,” and later he lists a short sampling of who we’ve lost due to addiction: Prince. Michael and Whitney. Amy. Ledger. Pimp C. Yams. DJ A.M.
The track features Ariana Deboo on the hook, and the visuals are a harrowing look at the many stages of withdrawal. Macklemore sits naked on his bed, throws up, tosses and turns and sweats through each verse, hammering home the ugly, physical reality of trying to combat addiction. In intermittent shots, Deboo is up to her neck in shiny, legal pills, decrying the easy availability from a drug dealer-doctor. One thing the video does not shy away from is how lives are being ruined and lost just so a couple people at the top can make money.
It ends, fittingly, with the final stanza of the Alcoholic Anonymous’ Serenity Prayer:
So God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change
Courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.
The track is part of a new MTV documentary called Prescription for Change: Ending America’s Opioid Crisis that also features Macklemore and President Obama in conversation. Watch that below in full and the new music video above via Genius.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction you’re not alone. You can call the Addiction Support hotline 24/7 at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or find online resources via Addiction Resource here.