Review Summary: But shit, it was 99 cents.
Hip-hop seems to becoming less and less connected to its origin. The more popular the mainstay of the genre is, the less you are linked to the person’s identity, as ‘the club’ seems to be the place that everything goes down, which is not the general happenings of everyone’s day to day life. I myself, do not proclaim to be fully diverse in knowledge of the hip-hop scene, yet I do know that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have created something out of the norm for the current atmosphere of mainstream rap regression, with the release of his first official studio album, The Heist
. Ben Haggerty – the man behind the mask of Macklemore - has been self producing and releasing music since the early 2000’s, independently producing three EP’s and an LP which gained a large online following, especially The Vs. Redux
EP – Haggerty’s first collaboration with Ryan Lewis - which gained a cult status in his home town of Seattle, due to the deep discussion of so called ‘taboo topics’, and his discussion and regret of substance abuse in his past life.
The opening lines of the albums first single, ‘Thrift Shop’ is an obvious kick in the face to the current onslaught of club based rap that radios permeate - with Haggerty firmly stating, “Walk up to the club like, ‘What up, I got a big cock!’ / Nah, I’m just pumped, just bought some *** from the thrift shop.”
It is this tongue cheek atmosphere that is apparent throughout a few of the albums cuts, but it is mainly noticeable that Haggerty is going to preach to you on a much deeper level. This is exemplified on ‘Same Love’, the discussion of gay equality/marriage and ‘Wings’ where consumerism is weaved into the discussion of being young, and getting a swanky pair of new Air Jordan’s. What differs The Heist
from someone like Lupe Fiasco, is Haggerty’s aptitude to centre on an constraint, create a rational opinion and present it to its full face value. On the very anti music industry, ‘Jimmy Iovine,’ Haggerty gives us the tail, from top to bottom, yet doesn’t touch on the subject matter again once the story is done.
There is no facade to dig through when trying to decipher Haggerty’s lyrics, for example – a verse from Same Love;
“We press play, don’t press pause
Progress, march on,
With the veil over our eyes
We turn out back on the cause
Til the day the my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking ‘round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
What not must be forgotten amongst the lyrical depths of Macklemore is the production of Ryan Lewis. Every song is laced with some sort of interconnection to the inner workings of the cuts message. From the children choir on ‘Wings’ to the driving beats of ‘White Walls’, Lewis has been concise with his mix and instrumental array that the work of Haggerty compliments the arrangements perfectly, and vice versa. While The Heist
may drag in places due to an inconsistent middle section, the big cuts more than make up for any of the less memorable moments. Haggerty may not have the all important ‘flow of the century’ and ‘be all up in the club’ but he sure does have opinions on the current world climate and its society, and is not afraid to voice what he believes, which is an admirable trait. What could be considered as a debut album of sorts, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis complement each other perfectly, with stunning musical arrangements that augment the discussion that Haggerty wishes to have with his listeners.