“Shadow” by Macklemore (ft. Iro)

Many listeners have interpreted “Shadow” as a song with a positive message, perhaps due to its upbeat style. However, for the most part the opposite is true.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Iro's Shadow at Lyrics.org.

The titular “shadow” is a personification of the artists’ fears. These apprehensions are so strong that they are having a restrictive effect on their lives. And also, as illustrated by Iro’s chorus, the “shadow” can also be said to be something along the lines of depression. So putting all of this together into simple language, the singers are depressed. And the foundation of this negative condition is fear and an overall feeling of inadequacy. And the situation has gotten so bad that, at least in the case of Macklemore, he has sought external help/support.

But the thematic sentiment expressed in this song is not the singers’ melancholy per se as much as it is their desire to overcome it. Thus they express a longing to flee from their own ‘shadows’. But during the bridge of the song, Iro recognizes that an individual trying to escape from his own shadow is basically on a fool’s errand. So instead of trying to hide from the situation, he remembers his mother telling him that he “has to be brave”. So if someone were to derive a positive message from this track, it would probably be based on this punchline and seemingly-conclusive statement, that in the battle against internal dilemmas such as fear, anxiety and low self-esteem, an individual should take a courageous approach.


So basically, “Shadow” is centered on Macklemore and Iro acknowledging fear as an intrinsic, inescapable and detrimental part of their being. Thus trying to escape these maladies using conventional methods is proving ineffectual. However, they are committed to rectifying these issues until “the fight is over”. But for the most part they do not seem overly optimistic, at least from a lyrical perspective, concerning their success in this endeavor.

Lyrics of "Shadow"

Origin of “Shadow”

This song originated from the 14 August 2019 episode of “Songland”. “Songland” is a realty-TV songwriting competition which features professional-music judges as well as a celebrity-guest musician/judge.  

“Shadow” was produced by Andrew DeRoberts and Shane McAnally. Both are also credited as co-writers along with Iro, Macklemore and several others.  

1 Response

  1. Will says:

    Its about Macklemore’s addiction. In particular the disease of addiction and the shame of relapsing.

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