Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist (album review)

On A Wake Macklemore questions his position as a conscious rapper, and the commonly held idea that not rapping about guns and sex somehow makes an artists music more worthwhile. The Seattle rapper even sounds embarrassed by the acclaim when he raps “These interviews are obnoxious/Saying it’s poetry it’s so well spoken, stop it”, conceding that his lyrics are just inspired by his situation.

The truth is all rap has its merits as poetry and writing songs about war and peace doesn’t make a rapper more legitimate or “real”. Just because it’s not on the radio doesn’t mean there isn’t an abundance of thought-provoking rap still being made, and for some Macklemore is just another artist in a crowded sea of consciousness.

Walk into the club like what up, I got a big cock/Nah, I’m just pumped up off some shit from the thrift shop

For many though what sets Macklemore is his ability to make records (word to Ryan Lewis). He doesn’t let his political agenda get in the way of fun. There’s a  misconception around rap that if it stimulates your mind it can’t stimulate your body. Macklemore and Lewis take all of five minutes to rubbish that theory as Haggerty thanks his city and his fans for sticking by him over Lewis’ infectious production. Can’t Hold Us is to Macklemore what My Life was to Slaughterhouse, without the fan backlash, but during the party he still finds time to flip the bird to major labels (Labels out here , nah they can’t tell me nothing) and to acknowledge the importance of failures in shaping our successes (Learn from that failure, gain humility).

Macklemore’s lyrics can sometimes dominate in a way that they distract from the music, but in time you’ll learn to love Macklemore’s words and Lewis’ beats as one symbiotic device designed to move your body whilst massaging and sometimes attacking your mind. Neon Cathedral will challenge your preconceptions of churches and bars as we learn the only difference is that “The liquor store is open later than the churches”.

This is my world, this is my arena/TV told me something different but I didn’t believe them

Where The Heist excels is in its balance. It’s informative without being preachy and when the music does err towards pop it avoids the typical pitfalls that leave a lot of radio hits sounding the same.

Macklemore’s subject matters are refreshing as he tackles issues that are underrepresented in the genre, going head to head with the critics who don’t believe that rap music can hold conversations about same sex marriage and consumerism. Same Love, the albums lead single, takes on homophobia (societal and within the genre), hip-hops great taboo. Macklemore highlights the arrogance of a society that has appointed itself judge and jury over other people’s happiness – “The right-wing conservatives think it’s a decision/And you can be cured with some treatment and religion/Manmade rewiring of a pre-disposition” – whilst lesbian singer Mary Lambert provides a melodic co-sing of the rappers sentiments.

That Same Love can live on the same album as a party song like Can’t Hold Us speaks volumes for the role that rap music continues to play in shaping minds and immortalizing memorable nights.

I’m an individual yeah, but I’m part of a movement/My movement told me be a consumer and I consumed it/They told me to just do it, I listened to what that swoosh said

Macklemore & Lewis have compiled such an impressive body of work that Wings has become The Heist’s forgotten hero. The song was the catalyst for a lot of the duos success and likely a big reason why they decided to follow up their EPs with a full length album. Some questioned why a song that was released over 18 months ago should be on the album but upon hearing the project in full it makes more sense than a G.O.O.D Music tour. Living over 40 minutes in at track 11 Wings is like finding a £5 note you forgot you had everytime Lewis’ strikes the first piano chord. The Heist is full of small nuances that keep you honest every time you listen to it but nobody who has heard these guys before will be surprised that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have produced an album that matches and even exceeds a lot of the major releases from the past 6 weeks.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist

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