Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
VS.


4.0
excellent

Review

by LargeTuna USER (7 Reviews)
January 29th, 2011 | 32 replies | 27,094 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Earnest storytelling atop perfect production.

6 of 6 thought this review was well written

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are two seemingly different artists from the same city. That city is Seattle, where kvlt black metallers praise Satan or nature or both next door to Tooth and Nail’s next up-and-coming artist singing or shrieking or sucking it up in the recording studio. Within this hubbub of creativity, Macklemore - an emcee - and Ryan Lewis - a jack-of-all-trades producer and artist - teamed up to create a 7-song EP. What this collaboration resulted in was The Vs. EP, an amalgamation of what lies beneath the music scene in Seattle, an album blending hip-hop and electronic beats with chamber-pop influenced string arrangements and a dose of hipster sentimentality. This may sound like a travesty waiting to happen, but the EP is pieced together so well by Lewis and Macklemore that its slip-ups may easily be forgiven.

Macklemore, obviously, handles the rapping on the album. His skills may be described as inconsistent, but not in an overly negative way as The Vs. EP shows many flashes of lyrical brilliance. Macklemore is primarily a story-teller, and the tracks in which he gets uber-personal are the best of the album. “Otherside” relates his struggles with an addiction to cough syrup (amongst many other drugs), ending with a plea to his listeners not to indulge themselves in the world of drugs. “Life is Cinema” is a spiritual journey of sorts that includes the superb line, “The page is a set of eyelids; the booth is an instrument that God created to record us trying to find him.” But unfortunately, the emcee’s storytelling becomes a bit redundant; at times, he rehashes old themes, and also struggles to fit his stories into anything resembling a rhyme scheme. The complaints, though, are minimal, because the album retains lyrical effectiveness despite the redundancy, and Macklemore’s tales and occasional brag raps (see “Crew Cut”) sit nicely atop Lewis’ slick production. Finally, the guest spots on the album are all superb, especially Xperience’s verse on the aforementioned “Crew Cuts.”

However, the The Vs. EP’s magnetism lies in the production, and enough praise cannot be given to Ryan Lewis’ expert handling of the beats, sounds, and arrangements found here. The varied instrumentation is key; each song displays textured production with multiple live instruments weaving in and out of a steady beat. “Vipassana” begins with a guitar tweaked to sound like its coming out of a ***ty radio in the 60’s playing over a keyboard. The bass hits, a rapid violin joins, and Macklemore’s lyrics that started 20 seconds earlier take the back seat. “Crew Cuts” attacks with a fast bass guitar riff later taken over by synths for a couple measures near the end of the track. Truly, each and every song features a uniquely constructed beat, and it’s no wonder why Lewis and Macklemore let the beats run on at the end of almost every song. “Life is Cinema” is a great example of this: Macklemore’s rapping ends two minutes into the song and the duration is handed over to Lewis, who carries on a bouncy synth and rolling piano beat while sampling The Killers “All These Things That I’ve Done.” But amongst all the outstanding beats found on The Vs. EP, “Otherside” shines brightest. The opening guitar riff is sampled from Red Hot Chili Peppers’ identically named track on the struggle of drug addiction. Lewis adds sweeping string arrangements and shoegazey atmospherics atop the riff, furnishing the track with a wonderfully dramatic feel that coincides perfectly with the story told by Macklemore. It’s remarkable, too, how, despite the experimentation, accessible the music is. The EP’s wide influences do not stifle the album whatsoever; on the surface level it’s simply a catchy, fluid hip-hop release. But listen further and you’ll find The Vs. EP’s genius exists in the layered rhythms of Ryan Lewis boiling underneath Macklemore’s earnest storytelling.



Recent reviews by this author
Darkside PsychicThe Gigantics Die Already
Haste the Day Burning BridgesConcert Silence 09.22.07 [2-3 P.M.]
Converge Axe to FallIn Vain Mantra
user ratings (88)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
bungy
January 29th 2011



8843 Comments


Nice!

BigTuna
January 29th 2011



5154 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Otherside: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWhx-CtPmBU

Digging: Common - Nobody's Smiling

bungy
January 29th 2011



8843 Comments


could use a masturbation joke though

BigTuna
January 29th 2011



5154 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

couldn't everything?

BigTuna
January 29th 2011



5154 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh, and this is free at Macklemore's myspace: http://www.myspace.com/macklemore

but if you want to support you can buy it for $5 here: http://ryanlewis.bandcamp.com/

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2011



7140 Comments


Good stuff, Tuna - have a pos.

Might check this out.

BigTuna
January 29th 2011



5154 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks man! you should, it's quite accessible even if you're not a fan of hip-hop

Spec
January 29th 2011



27053 Comments


couldn't everything? [2]

ebay
January 29th 2011



501 Comments


Great review. I've been meaning to give Macklemore a listen for a while... Listening to Otherside right now.

mallen-
January 29th 2011



1235 Comments


great review contributor

MusicIsMyFavorite
January 29th 2011



405 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, Macklemore's fucking fantastic. Haven't heard this yet but I will be soon

iFghtffyrdmns
January 29th 2011



7047 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Very well written review, pos'd for sure.
I don't dabble much in hip-hop but I'll most definitely give this a listen.

BigTuna
January 30th 2011



5154 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks all for the kind words and pos! If you read this and didn't download the EP DO IT NOW.

iFghtffyrdmns
January 31st 2011



7047 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I will say one negative thing about this EP, and that's the last song. I seriously can't stand it, I feel compelled to skip it every time it comes on haha.

Other than that though, one of the best hip-hop albums I've heard.

BigTuna
January 31st 2011



5154 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah the last song is pretty meh; it's like the same lyrical content of all the others

iFghtffyrdmns
February 1st 2011



7047 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i think the lyrical content of the EP is generally phenomenal, barring just that last song.
you said it best though, enough praise can't be given to Lewis. Start to finish, the production and sampling is extraordinary.

BigTuna
February 8th 2011



5154 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah man, the production is ace

BigHans
April 19th 2011



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

bumped Otherside and Irish Celebration on his MySpace page, both are pretty boss.

Inveigh
April 19th 2011



24798 Comments


I love The Language of My World, so I should probably get this

BigTuna
April 30th 2011



5154 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is much better than The Language of My World imo



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy