Review Summary: Excellently written songs backed up by flawless production, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis create a fun, thought-provoking, and moving record.
Modern day hip-hop, while very popular and beloved by many, is also one of the most hated genres in the entire world. If you ask someone who hates it, they will tell you that the only people that actually buy records from rappers such as Lil Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj, are drunk high school and college kids that are too stupid to listen to anything but what the radio plays.
While that is not exactly the truth, modern hip-hop has come under fire for it's repetitive subject matter and lack of writing integrity. So when independent Seattle rapper Ben Haggerty, better known as "Macklemore", and his right-hand-man/producer Ryan Lewis, released their debut album "The Heist" to considerable radio play, many, including myself, expected another sex/drugs/money rapper to brag about himself (which, in hindsight, seemed like the only type of rapper the radio's tolerated).
I am very happy to admit that I was wrong.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis make for a dynamic duo across this 15 track LP, which features excellently crafted songs with flawless production. Macklemore's style of rapping is very subject-based, meaning that he does not ramble on about random things for 4 minutes (Except on the hit song "Thrift Shop", where he quite literally rambles on about random things for 4 minutes.) This allows him to play it safe with his lyrics, as they do not have to be vague or complex for us to understand his (usually) deep meanings. Songs like "Ten Thousand Hours", "Same Love", and "Starting Over" are excellent story-telling songs written by Macklemore.
As for Ryan Lewis, he is the real star of the record. Every beat on the album is well-crafted and fun/moving to listen to. His beats and sound production fit Macklemore's style perfectly. I was hard pressed to find any song that was not made much better by Ryan Lewis' production. Songs like "Can't Hold Us", " Thrift Shop", and "Jimmy Iovine" have so many different elements to their respective beats, but Lewis makes everything flow together as smooth as silk.
The record isn't perfect, as there are a few songs that are either out of place, ("Cowboy Boots"), or just not up to par with the others ("Thin Line"). That being said, it is easily one of the better hip-hop albums of 2012. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were made to make the other better at what they do, and that is exactly what happens on this record. Macklemore may not do anything new or inventive with his lyrics, but his socially and politically conscious mind allows him to appeal to our better nature, and to make us think about the world around us, and the values of that world. And as Ryan Lewis backs him up with his fun/moving beats, he really is able to drive the nail home.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis may very well be the future of hip-hop, for better or worse. It's comforting that they take a big leap towards the better with this excellent album.