Sir Mix-a-Lot 

By some cruel trick of fate, Sir Mix-a-Lot is playing the Top Hat on the same night that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis play the Adams Center. Missoula hip-hop fans are forced to weigh a difficult question: Who is the greatest rapper ever to emerge from Seattle?

Both Macklemore and Sir Mix-a-Lot were born and raised in the coastal city. Neither, it may surprise you to learn, has been formally knighted. Both have platinum albums—Macklemore for last year's The Heist and Mix-a-Lot for 1992's Mack Daddy. Both are beloved by white people. But only one has won a Grammy: Mix-a-Lot took Best Rap Solo Performance in 1992 for—wait for it—"Baby Got Back."

Only Sir Mix-a-Lot is getting monster karaoke royalties right now, as you read this. The man born Anthony Ray 50 years ago has seen all sides of music stardom, from the approval of heads for Swass to mainstream dominance with Mack Daddy to the frustrating failure to recapture that dominance with Chief Boot Knocka and Return of the Bumpasaurus. He has been the voice of a drunken leprechaun on a BET cartoon. The leprechaun's name was "Nuttkase." In short, Mix-a-Lot has been around.

Macklemore's career is less an arc than a launch. "Thrift Shop" made him famous, and alternately frantic and preachy follow-up singles ("Can't Hold Us" and "Same Love") have kept him that way. He is the bigger draw, but for how long? Whether he has another three-single album in him or will simply go the way of the bumpasaurus remains to be seen. I personally will be at the Top Hat Thursday night, gazing into one of his possible futures and, for few minutes at least, singing along.

Sir Mix-a-Lot plays the Top Hat Thu., Oct. 24, at 10 PM. $15/$13 plus fees in advance.

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