A skinny white guy from rural Michigan reviews a hip-hop album.
I haven't enjoyed one this much since Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Listening to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' The Heist, I'd stack it right up next to West's last solo album (yes, I did just say that). Macklemore's strong lyrics, both fun (Thrift Shop) and meaningful (see Same Love and Wing$ below and Thin Line on the album) surf along Ryan Lewis' musical creations. I'm one of the population who justifies $200 headphones (for fidelity, not for certain personality's name on a box) and Lewis gives me plenty to hear, seasoning the beats and rhythms with subtle elements, often brief, but always appropriate.
I came across M&RL first thanks to NPR's All Songs Considered podcast (shout out!). It felt as though I was hopping on a train already pushing hard down the track, powered by the steam of M&L's self-promotion, toward a successful release of their debut. Apparently they're making the Do-It Yourself style work for them...almost three quarters of their live shows from now until the end of the year are already sold out.
Read (and listen) below for a few reasons why you should see what the buzz is about:
1. This packaging:
The deluxe edition of the Heist reminds me the reasons that, as much as I love digital access to music, there's nothing better than grasping a new album in your hands. The package includes, within it's stylin', glossy, oversize box, an art card for each track, featuring relevant photography or art on one side and track credits on the other.
Also included: a thank you note from the duo. "You guys are fucking awesome. We love you. Ben & Ryan." My mom would approve.
2. This video:
I'm a take your grandpa's style.
A love song about sneakers. A demonstration of childhood dreams distorted by consumerism.
I have to wonder how Nike feels about the music video.
4. Guest spots
From the likes of Allen Stone, Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses) and a few others.
5. Same Love
I occasionally find myself apologizing for aspects of certain interests (the portrayal of women in professional wrestling comes to mind). Thankfully, there has been a recent movement in hip-hop away from it's homosexuality taboo. This track was created as part of the Music for Marriage Equality campaign.
Plagued by pain in their heart, A world so hateful, Someone would rather die, Than be who they are
Excuse me, I've got something in my eye.