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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Ten Thousand Hours

"Ten Thousand Hours" by Macklemore • Lyrics

Between “Same Love" and "Thrift Store”, Macklemore is blowing up right now. And it’s about time! But right now I’m all about “Ten Thousand Hours”, the first track on The Heist. It perfectly illustrates how different a voice Macklemore is in hip-hop.

What’s so special about this song? To start with, it’s based on a friggin’ Malcolm Gladwell quote (whom he name drops, too). In his book Outliers, Gladwell says:

…ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything…

The idea of, say, Chris Brown or Flo Rida reading and quoting Gladwell just makes me laugh, laugh, laugh. But since getting clean, Macklemore has been more about what’s between his ears and beats in his chest than what’s below his belt.

In “Ten Thousand Hours”, he delivers a stirring call to work hard and live your dreams—for him “a life lived for art is never a life wasted”.

I make my living off of words
And do what I love for work
And got around 980 on my SATs
Take that system, what did you expect?
Generation of kids choosing love over a desk
Put those hours in and look at what you get
Nothing that you can hold, but everything that it is

Now, I got nothing wrong with desk work, but I absolutely support the idea that your success in school doesn’t determine your success in life. You’ve got to want it to win it. The lives of every great person is littered with those who said, “You can’t do that”.

To take “living your dreams” into “making a living with your dreams”, the importance of hard work becomes one of the defining factors. As Thomas Stanley wrote:

It’s seldom luck or inheritance or education or even intelligence that builds fortunes. Wealth is more often the result of hard work, perseverance, and, most of all, self-discipline.

Work hard, make smart choices, ask questions, and stick with it until the end. Now go get it.

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