The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

The most recently talked about collaborators in rap culture today are Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Both have been freshly renowned, joining the top list of other music collaborators, which include Kanye West & Jay-Z, David Byrne & St. Vincent, Chiddy Bang, WZRD, and Shwayze & Cisco. The Heist is Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ first full-length collaborative rap album to date and, so far, their success has been hitting the charts. But from listening to album, it’s interesting to see how they’ve come so far, especially in the rap game. The Heist is both what a listener of mainstream rap and hip hop wants and what a diverse listener of any music veers a little from. But I have to say that it keeps anyone entertained, especially with producer Ryan Lewis’ sick and stimulating beats. The album starts with a small yet powerful harpsichord, which lays out rapper Macklemore’s lyrics on “Ten Thousand Hours.” Next comes another piano-filled gospel tune “Can’t Hold Us,” but Macklemore’s lyrics aren’t as strong on this one. The third track of The Heist is, as everyone may already know, “Thrift Shop,” the most popular and catchiest off the duo’s album. It may be their best work, but also struggles lyrically: The beats are definitely worth listening to, providing a funky trumpet and hip hop vibe, but Macklemore’s rap, as well as featured guest Wanz’s rap, are both unbalanced and faulty: Wanz preaches, “I’m gonna pop some tag/Only got twenty dollars in my pocket/I’m hunting, looking for a come-up/This is fucking awesome,” which segues into Macklemore’s profane statement, “Walk up to the club like, ‘What up, I got a big cock!’/I’m just pumped, just bought some shit from the thrift shop.” “Thrift Shop” may not provide the smartest choice of words or even a good message – being thrifty and Macklemore bragging about all the clothes he bought – but it does seem to attract an audience, including myself. The next track, “Thin Line,” literally starts out with a flat telephone line, which is an stylish layout for the rest of the song. The next few raps off The Heist are slightly divided, with some authentic rhymes and rhythms (“Same Love,” “Make the Money,” “Jimmy Iovine”) and some dull and monotonous tunes (“Neon Cathedral,” “BomBom,” “White Walls”). Although “White Walls” does featured recently renowned rapper Schoolboy Q, his appearance doesn’t even seem that shown. The last part of The Heist provides an intriguing set of strong rhymes: The songs include the rhythmic and moving “Wing$,” the head-bopping “A Wake,” and the effervescent “Gold.” The next track, “Starting Over,” which features Ben Bridwell, a band member of alt-indie rock Band of Horses, is something of a dream scape but also repetitive and mediocre. The album closer, “Cowboy Boots,” a surprising country-electronic ballad, is an extremely disappointing end of The Heist, being that it has no relevance nor is a good mix for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ first album.
Although the beats and rhythms to The Heist are undeniably engrossing, it lacks what makes up a great rap album – diversity, perseverance, and lyrical brilliance. Macklemore has his moments, both great and memorable, but also has his downfalls. It’s hard to tell what’s in store for Macklemore’s future, as he provides an unclear message, as well as an unusual blend of different genres that integrates into hip-hop. Fortunately, with producer Ryan Lewis’ genius mixing and flow, The Heist definitely pulls off as a good first attempt for each of their careers.
Grade: B
Recommended: Songs individually
Suggested Tracks: “Ten Thousand Hours,” “Thrift Shop, “Same Love,” “Gold” “Jimmy Iovine

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