Throughout society we been locked in that cobra clutch
The Cobra Clutch is a wrestling chokehold. The society Macklemore envisions is opposed to today’s society, which is very much based on money (gold) and property. The basic belief is that to be someone you have to have a lot of things and money. Because of everyone having differing wealth, the poorer people were under more stress (metaphorical chokehold). But notice this is in past tense because now that everyone is rich, they’re out of the clutch.
“We” likely means his listeners. They were kinda taken by the “race for money” and so the next line is what people are going for because of that — gold, cash, wealth.
The Cobra Clutch was subsequently a dance made popular by the Saddle Club frontman, Lil' Chong.
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