‘Heist’ earns its place in the hip-hop canon

by Cody Franklin

Courtesy Macklemore and Ryan Lewis BnW

Every generation has an artist who revolutionizes the game. Names like Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin and Daft Punk come to mind. Ladies and gentlemen, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis might just be those artists today. Well, OK, they might not have that legendary status yet. But they do have killer raps about shopping at thrift stores for your grandpa’s style and golden-mulleted eagles that rudely relieve themselves on pedestrians. I’d say that’s almost as good.

Before the release of “The Heist,” I had never heard about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. However, the album quickly exploded on iTunes, skyrocketing to No. 1 within hours of release. Now that I’ve had the chance to listen to it, I feel like the universe robbed me of years of enjoying one of the best artists I’ve ever listened to.

If you hadn’t guessed already, Macklemore’s lyrics aren’t exactly typical of the rap/hip- hop scene. In “Thrift Shop,” Macklemore espouses the virtues of shopping at thrift stores. In “Gold,” he dreams up a world where everything is made of, well, gold. However, most of the songs on the album are much more serious.

“Same Love” is one of the most moving songs I’ve ever encountered, calling for equal rights for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender community, with an equally powerful music video. Macklemore raps, “The right-wing conservatives think it’s a decision / and you can be cured with some treatment and religion / man-made, rewiring of a pre-disposition / playing God / Ahh nah, here we go / America the brave / still fears what we don’t know / and God loves all his children it’s somehow forgotten / but we paraphrase a book written 3,500 hundred years ago.”

In a genre that often promotes drinking and drugs, Macklemore chooses to instead detail his battle with addiction in “Starting Over.”

“Wings” tackles the dangers of consumerism through Nike shoes saying, “They told me to just do it / I listened to what that swoosh said, Look at what that swoosh did / see it consumed my thoughts, Are you stupid, don’t crease ‘em, just leave ‘em in that box / strangled by these laces, laces I can barely talk.”

Each song covers vastly different issues in a very different ways. “Jimmy Iovine” features a heavy beat and rapid-fire rapping, while “Cowboy Boots” is laid back, accompanied by banjos and a choir. Many of the songs feature other artists during the chorus. You might not have heard names like Wanz, Mary Lambert, Buffalo Madonna and Eighty4 Fly, but after listening to “The Heist,” you’ll likely head to their iTunes pages.

I’ve never been much of a music junkie, and I’ve never repeatedly listened to one artist or album ad-nauseum. However, “The Heist” changed that. I just can’t turn it down. I listen to every song over and over, each as strong as the last, which is quite a feat for music these days. Do yourself a huge favor and pick up this album. When you’re done, I promise you’ll be asking for (Mackle)more.