Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist

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An exemplary balance of serious and cheerful cuts alike, very seldom does "The Heist" reach beyond its means.

Author Malcolm Gladwell laid out the theory in his book Outliers: The Story of Success that regardless of God-given talent, an individual who strives for an ideal proficiency in their respective craft must first spend at least ten years honing their skills. Better known as the “10,000-Hour Rule” it can be applied to any industry - whether it is science, sports or the arts. Fittingly, it’s also a theory that Seattle rapper Macklemore stands by, as evidenced by his climb from earlier years of artistic stagnation and personal struggles to an underground sensation that has built his own success without the assistance of a record label. This culmination of an independent and willful demeanor is undoubtedly present on his debut full-length The Heist with producer Ryan Lewis.

No better place to start is “Jimmy Iovine,” where a metaphoric portrait of industry insolence transpires, not to mention a nod to the album’s title. In it Macklemore takes on a label head (guess who?), opting to venture out on his own after encountering a shady proposition that many of today’s newer artists have likely been cursed with. Subsequently, this literal sense of freedom is what allows The Heist to cover a wide scope of material without compromising Macklemore’s message. “Neon Cathedral” deals with his past penchant for alcohol abuse, while “Starting Over” digs deep into a recent relapse that put Macklemore into a disheartening position. In both cases Macklemore takes a vulnerable approach that few rappers would bear, a testament to the honesty in his music.

Playing as much an activist as an emcee, “Same Love” is a transcendent moment that challenges the status quo of Hip Hop, specifically dealing with the acceptance of homosexuality and marriage equality. With inspiring piano keys and a moving chorus from Mary Lambert supporting his potent words, Macklemore declares, “No law is gonna change us, we have to change us / Whatever God you believe in, we come from the same one / Strip away the fear, underneath it’s all the same love / About time that we raised up.”

While Macklemore can substantially make his case on the lyrical side, “Same Love” (and the entirety of The Heist for that matter) wouldn’t carry the same significance without the work of Ryan Lewis. Making a conscious decision to stay away from sampling, he instead took on the task of building each record with layered production. Whether it’s the Beastie Boys-esque bounce of “Thrift Shop” or the compelling orchestral delivery of “Wings,” Lewis’ compositions sufficiently add to Macklemore’s themes whereas a beat sent through email would have certainly diminished its value. With the lone featured verse courtesy of Top Dawg cohort ScHoolboy Q spotlighting a mutual love for Cadillacs, “White Walls” puts on a clinic of their chemistry topped off by a charming hook from singer Hollis.

An exemplary balance of serious and cheerful cuts alike, very seldom does The Heist reach beyond its means. And when it does, it’s more so due to lack of creative placement than effort. Unexpectedly, “BomBom” is a performance that takes the listener through different phases of visionary flight. Kudos to The Teaching aside, the instrumental track doesn’t properly fit into the scheme of The Heist, much less a break halfway through the album. Then there’s “Thin Line,” a record that is moments away from a relationship status change on Facebook. Built over hollow claps and nimbly thin synth, it’s one that will likely slide by without a second look considering the depth that is available elsewhere. “Cowboy Boots” meets somewhat better execution, with chants reminiscent of an English pub during a football (no, not that one) fixture and a banjo giving the track gusto.

For those that have given (then Professor) Macklemore’s first project Open Your Eyes a listen will hear the exponential growth he has made since then with The Heist. He and Ryan Lewis may not be your stereotypical Hip Hop duo, but that’s just another case of these two Seattleites breaking the industry norm. 10,000 hours later, Macklemore is definitely feeling like gold.

117 Comments

  • Some White Dude

    This comment section has me shaking my head in so many ways. I've been listening to Macklemore since 08' when I saw him open for Zion I. He has talent and deserves any success that comes his way. Language of My World is a classic album of the underground scene and haters who claim he didn't pay his dues are idiots. Same time, people coming on here and saying shit like "best rap album in years"... NO, just fucking NO. The Heist is a quality album, but it may not even be the best thing Macklemore himself has produced. Second 80/Mad City, Undun/How I Got Over, Acid Rap, 1999, First of a Living Breed, Doris... all of these albums are better than The Heist. Coming onto boards like these and spouting hypoerbolic shit and/or pretending like Mack is the only brilliant lyricist in hip-hop makes it clear that you are ignorant of the culture. It gives Macklemore a bad name and reinforces the haters stereotypes about the type of people that listen to him... more importantly, it gives a bad name to white people who listen to hip-hop. And as a hip-hop junkie who cares deeply about the art form and culture, I resent that. Sincerely, Some White Dude.

  • Charlie

    Excellent as a pop album. Shitty as a rap album. Good beats, bad flow and rhymes from Macklemore.

  • JeromeAsf

    Macklemore is dope stop hating u haters Everybody we need to stop hatters cuz there fricking anoying

  • A Hip Hop fan

    this is not rap or hip hop, it's a guy who talks over a beat and happens to rhyme, no flow whatsoever only in white walls. Only white people like him, this guy is just like grieves faggot ass self. The only white rappers I like is yelawolf, eminem, aesop rock and apathy, but not shure if he is white. This guy is the gay version of 2pac, he might have good message, but has no rapping what so ever!!!!

  • Anonymous

    The fact that it has. 4.19 rating says a lot about what this site has become

  • bertille

    In France, we've just discovered him with Thrift Shop, and I have to be honest but before I listen to him, I didn't like rap. His songs are just amazing, and not only in The Heist! He wants to open our eyes, and he totaly does

  • Kortney

    Thin line is my fav

  • Kortney

    Amazing! Favorite song is thin line

  • Carl

    Trash. This is exclusively for whites and fake niggaz.

  • Ryan Fischer

    World Changer. Incredible.

  • james

    this is so totally wicked

  • areeba

    best hip-hop album ..........

  • duane

    what else can i say that everyone else hasn't. hes great! period. lol

  • Gabi

    I love his music it's to honest and raw. Definitely goes above and beyond other rappers in my opinion.

  • Xtopher

    Strong thru and thru.

  • Anonymous

    beats are tight. and choruses are good but macklemore sounds like he is preaching other than rapping. his voice ruins this album for me.

    • Aaron

      In an interview, Macklemore stressed how difficult it is to be inspiring without sounding preachy. I personally think that he is very uplifting and inspiring. But it is a difficult thing to do and it's an easy line to cross, going from connecting with people to preaching at them.

    • Daniel

      Hm. Isn't every rapper preaching though? 2Pac, Biggie, Eminem, etc. They all have a message to preach and rap music is the means through which they do it. Isn't that what art is? Expressing personal beliefs/convictions through creativity?

  • Anonymous

    For anybody who likes the Heist then you should also check out "The Vs Redux"..theres some good tracks on there but Otherside(which is on the vs redux) is the standout track that cemented my luv for Macklemore! 5 stars

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely obsessed with this album and happy to see a white guy other than Em making good hip hop tunes

  • William

    Macklemore is so much more than "Thrift Shop," I did not like to dude before I listened to this entire CD. So much heart, so much truth. He is just so real, he even mentions that he will probably capitalize on his addictions and relapsing because he knows that is what sales.

  • Evan Mottley

    Best Album I have ever listened to. No Joke. I have listened to this non-stop for the past week and hopefully for many more.

  • gefitz

    Best hiphop album in years. an actual message coming from hiphop in this day and age is rare. A message that is a direct slap in the face of hiphop culture itself, even more so. Beautiful, balanced, and honest.

  • Andrew

    Wow at the writer making it seem like creativity was lacking on this. He's not the most lyrical but content/creativity is something that definitely made the album stand out. I just became a fan and that's the sole reason. Who in hip hop has ever written a song like Thrift Shop (which I don't even like but the concept is fresh)? -_- VERY good album.

  • ricky g

    Pure raw amazing album.

  • Josh Evans

    Macklemore reaches a lyrical depth that is far too absent in present day hip-hop. His intelligence comes through and his understanding of the society that he lives in is obvious. The beats make you move and the lyrics make you think. What more could be asked for...

  • Golden era

    Honestly , I can't remember the last time I listened to a hip-hop album and felt it was easily the best thing I've listened to in a while. Macklemore has a voice that is honest without sounding preachy. This feels like art. This sounds like something that a lot of thought was put into and it sounds so good too.

  • Eric

    A stellar album, easily the best of the year. Soaring instrumentals, tight but creative rhymes, powerful subjects, political pertinence, this album has it all. Lewis and Macklemore have forged something amazing here, and it comes through in the tightness between the production and the lyrics. The Heist is obviously a labor of love. I don't understand all the comments that say Macklemore is too poppy or too soft. Is it because he uses real instruments and vocals in his tracks? Or because he is honest when he raps about something personal to him? His sparing use of auto-tune? You may not love his style, but you have to admit that he spits truth with great technical skill. Listen to his lyrics. Indulge yourself in music that makes you think. Get lost in the beauty of Same Love, then pump out the beats and dance to Can't Hold Us. Spread the love, spread the word, spread the music.

  • Nic Adamo

    Ben and I are around the same age, I first heard him when Language came out. Even being from Seattle, I was always introducing people to his music. I was constantly surprised that people didn't know who he was. That debut LP has some iconic tracks on it its been a constant rotation of mine since '05...a few years and a few struggles later he has grown into his spot at the top of Seattle Hip Hop. Ryan Lewis is just amazing. I seriously listened to the album ten times straight through by October 11th. After I had absorbed the feel and lyrics, they sort of melted away and I was stuck on the depth of the production. To me, the album is laid out perfectly, it checks your momentum at the right time.. bringing you back to slow reality before launching you off the pad again. The accompanying artists blend and highlight so well. Some of my favorites there. Shout to Wanz! Someone help me out, Hollis is a ghost! I cant find this girl anywhere.. This is my album of the year...decade...till the next evolution of Ryan and Ben. The only thing that could push this alum higher would be an appearance by the LEGENDARY Sir Raven Bowie....and then there he was. Seven Stars Folks

    • Keith

      Hollis is @wongweezy, was in a group called Canary Sing, now in a group called the Flavr Blue, helps manage Blue Scholars. She's definitely not a ghost, one of the hardest working Seattlites I know in music. :) Agreed on the album. Ryan is a beast. Truly next level. Glad to see them shining.

  • RJ

    3.5 out of 5. Needs more balance. Cut some of the slow jams. Fall asleep music.

  • psynic.

    Let me just say, as someone who came up listening to dudes like Pharoahe, Pun, and L... Macklemore is the truth, son. If you disagree its because of one or two reasons: A. You haven't seen him live (he personifies stage presence and straight up bodies shows). or B. You haven't given the album a minimum of 4 spins front to back... 4 spins is an absolute must before forming an opinion on an artist/album. I was uncomfortable w/his sound too at first. But give him a chance to win you over and I GUARANTEE that he will. Here are some songs to check out real quick to get a better idea of his sound: Claiming the City Hold Your Head Up Listen to Sound Procreate Fresh Coast Translucent Truth Letterhead Remix Do it Themselves These are all tracks that'll help you understand this dude is rap to the core. Plus if you peep other seattle classics like Yours Truly (Sol) and What Was Lost (Scribes) you'll understand the context of this album better. Peace and love people

    • Andre

      My Album of the Year is Life Is Good, but this Album too me is the most slept on.... I really didnt think Macklemore was any good, because I thought he would be just another corny ass white rapper, but he brings a new sound, originality, and some new subject matter. He is the real deal. I co-sign him as good. Im just like you Pharoahe Monch is one of the illest and I know good hip/hop, this shit is a breathe of fresh air. I really enjoy this dude.

    • marie-soleil

      hey thx good comment

  • Ally

    The album has everything you need, uplifting beats, calming songs, and tracks that make you really think. I can't stress enough how much I love this album. I saw him in concert on Friday, he is an AMAZING live performer, I see people saying that he is another one of those meaningless rappers that won't be remembered, but he has really impacted so many lives. His lyrics are an escape for most of us, his words are real. Deffinatly worth the money spent.

  • buddafingaz

    Ben is the man. This album is incredible and unique and absolutely amazing.

  • SOUTH PARK MEXICAN

    With Macklemore you either like him or you don't. You are either white or you aren't. That is as honest as I can be. Hate to say it but it is the truth. Macklemore is how hip-hop will sound when it is completely white-washed. All the Asians, Hispanics and Blacks will abandon the genre and it will end up like rock and roll. Then Blacks will create another art form that will be despised initially, only to be co-opted by White America and eventually taken over by white boys who will say the same old tired line "this _ isn't black music." (right before they steal it). Everyone knows Eminem is one of the greatest, however, what these new guys are doing is "white hip-hop." We all know what happened when B.B. King and Chuck Berry got replaced with Elvis. White boys will crucify me for this but it is true. They are the majority, they can't help it. They outnumber Blacks and Hispanics. That tired line about white people buying hip-hop records more and going to shows is full of shit. Of course white people are going to buy more records, simply because there are more white people in the U.S. and they have more disposable income than minorities. Of course they are going to go to more shows, minorities are concentrated in only a few places and plus the are only 12 percent of the population so when you do a country wide tour the majority of the audience is going to be white. DUHHH. White people and their biased as statistics.

  • Anonymous

    album was dope. i dont know why yall hatin. maybe its cuz hes white. idk but this is dope both lyrically and production wise

  • Freddostar

    Macklemore is talent, I went to see Blue Scholars years ago and left a Macklemore fan. I've seen a fuckload of MCs live, some big names too like Nas, Common, Little Brother, Talib, David Banner, Atmosphere, The Roots, Cunninlynguists, and I'd say Macklemore worked the crowd harder than just about anyone. I took note of him back on his first album after White Privilege, this album is a lot more cohesive than his previous works. He's not my usual style of hip hop (slightly more no-frills with my ears) but I can't give Macklemore high enough praise. Ryan Lewis comes through and there's even guest spots to Budo on horns. Hate all you want bu the dude is a breathe much needed fresh air. I turn on Shade 45 on Sirrus or Hip Hop XL and I want to blow out my fucking brains to make it stop. Its good hear something that is poppy and not retarded

  • jcsgod

    Dope ass album tryin to see him this week in NYC but I think shit is sold out which is kinda weird no ones really even heard of him yet?

  • Sergio

    This is an all around great album, the beats and the rhymes match superbly. Many people are probably hating on him because he's white, or because he doesn't talk about fucking bitches and buying fancy shit. But this is an album with many messages. Gay rights, economic disparity, being proud of where you came from, substance abuse, and more. Macklemore's lyrics and flow are a consistent pleasure to listen to throughout this album. There are no comparable beats right now to Ryan Lewis'.

  • King Leonidas

    Actually, i didn't really want to listen to this album. But after all the hype, i gave it a spin. And i must say... i got what i expected. Some overhyped pop rap! It's a mediocre album if at all. Okay let me put it like this: If you like some electronic-influenced hip hop beats with some sugar-sweat sang mass-compatible hooks, maybe this one's for you. But if you like some traditional Hip Hop Stuff like Apollo Brown, Sean P or Nas, then it won't necessarily meet your taste. Another Album, that will be forgotten in 6 months at most. Get off the bandwagon people, and listen to some quality music!

    • marie-soleil

      can you give some new beat I can listen

    • Rockwell

      Hey man, I grew up on that 90s stuff too. I get that you're not feeling the electro-sounding production and the emo rap lyrics because you grew up on that grimy 90s content. But there's a place for artists like Primo and Nas, and there's a place for artists like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis too. The only gripe I have with your comment is labeling the album as pop rap. Dude, how many rappers are speaking openly about gay rights on their albums?

    • Anonymous

      I guess its too deep for you

    • King Leonidas

      Okay the lyrics are aight, in this point i won't disagree. But seemingly Hip Hop is rhymes AND beats. If the beat hurts in my ear, then sorry i can't listen to it! And when it's not the beat, then a corny hook comes around to mess the track up. I must admit, that i grew up with some Wu-Tang/Mobb Deep/Ice Cube/Snoop Dogg Stuff. So it's really hard for me to get into that kind of rap. Maybe i'm a bit picky, but man i listened to over 50 Hip Hop Albums this year and i liked a lot of albums more than this one. Anyway, i respect your statement, hopefully i'm wrong and you'll listen to this album 1 year from now. :) Peace bro, have a nice day.

    • LOL

      No sir, this album doesn't have hype. His album was completely overshawdowed by K. Dot's. But with that being said sine you say it does have "Hype" whatever "hype" it was, it certainly lved up to it dude. I mean the beats were poppy, but every rapper is not gifted with J. League and Just Blaze and Premo etc. But even so he brought lyrics to table. Lyrics that can maek you forget about the okay production for one second adn focus on every story he's telling within the package. This is a sheer 4/5 no doubt. Maybe you need to listen again....

  • talktalkreal

    Innovative production by far. Ryan Lewis production reminds me of where these cats called One Watts Sun left off who did Kool Keith's Return of Dr. Octagon record.(which I think was highly slept on.)As for Macklemore rhymes......I'm not sold.

  • Stanley

    soft pop-hop. this wears thin fast.

  • Kyle

    Hip Hop Album Of The YEEEAARRR! I'm glad he finally got the recognition he deserved. It's been inspiring seeing the progress he made in a few years after Language of My World

  • Anonymous

    Macklemore is the embodiment of what hip-hop was. It's jumping over turnstiles because you can't be to ride the train, it's the anger and angst you feel from a broken home in a broken neighborhood, it's finding a new way to cook top ramen because you've eaten every day for the past 3 weeks, it's elevating ourselves and the people around us by exposing their plight not exploiting their misery.

    • elbruce

      Maybe, but Macklemore doesn't cover any of those themes you referred to. Everything he raps about is his own personal experience. He admits he went to a good college, that he has options (check out his older track "White Privilege"). He very intentionally doesn't pretend to be anything he's not. His struggles are personal, not based in class. But that doesn't make them any less real, or universal.

    • sergio

      Extremely well said. Macklemore definitely is trying to reach back to hip-hops roots.

    • Budda

      Self reflection and real emotion. Maybe you would rather pretend to be hard and unemotional. I'm sorry your dad wasn't around for u

  • Jordan

    Read my review on my blog of the album ----> http://thestixxclusiveblog.com/2012/11/08/macklemore-ryan-lewis-the-heist-the-stixxclusive-review/

  • Mike

    Great release. Awseome lyricist

  • Anonymous

    Check out "Perfection Is A Theory" by Sivil! Album of the year! http://sivilmusic.tumblr.com/PerfectionIsATheory

  • FINAL SCORE

    YAWWNNNNNNNNN....FOR ALL THE HIPSTER HOMO WHO LISTEN TO THIS SHIT AND RAVE ABOUT IT, MAYBE THEIR SKINNY JEANS ARE ON TOO FUCKIN TIGHT, FUCK OUTTA HERE QUEER KIDS OF TODAY, THIS ALBUM IS A 0/50...WHO THE FUCK IS MACKLEMORE???? WHO THE FUCK IS RYAN LEWIS???? AOTP SOMEONE? SEAN PRICE ANYONE? IS ROC MARCIANO EVEN RINGING BELLS HERE? HOW ABOUT A POWER LINE BY TRISTATE? NONE? THIS ALBUM IS A FAILURE.....IF U WANT TO LISTEN TO THIS KIND OF RAP, WHY EVEN LISTEN TO RAP? GO LISTEN TO TECHNO/DANCE/JUNGLE/ELECTRONICA MIXED, NOT SOME BULLSHIT FAG HIPSTER GARBAGE

    • budda

      you keep listening to negative hateful bull. it's ok if you dont understand. keep buying what their sellin

    • Anonymous

      so what kind of hip hop do you listen to bro? one of the best rap albums of the year so far. kendrick lamar's album much worse than this one.

  • youngvito79

    Wack commercial rap!! You guys really think this stuff is good?? lmao!!

  • mo

    this shit deserves 5 stars

  • rccasarez11

    Very well done, can listen to this album all the way through. Like a sound of mgk and j-cole. F*** the sad face with this one.

  • J-Key

    I think it was dope. Go Macklemore, go Northwest, go Seattle. Shoutout Everett!

  • Chez

    DAAAAAMN. Just finished listening to this album, and I've gotta say, I wasn't expecting this level of dopeness. Are they selling this in stores or online only? I have to get myself a copy.

  • KiLLLLLAaaa

    Halfway in. Pretty dope album.

  • tbigggggs

    If you sit down and read the lyrics of his songs while listening, I don't know how you couldn't enjoy this album. Ryan Lewis was on point all the way through, and Macklemore's lyrics are so good. Doesn't just rap about money pussy weed like most popular rappers recently.

  • g

    Corniest rapper since vanilla ice lol smh

  • mo

    If Macklemore keeps this up he'll be a force to be messed with

  • AlbumOfTheYear

    Without a doubt, this is the hip hop album of the year. Sorry Kendrick and Lupe.. EVERY song is great, save for maybe two which are just less than great.

  • Anonymous

    @tiego nah man there pretty equal , dont hype kendo up jus enjoy his music man.. there both crazy albums AND they lean the same way - the truth. none of this stupid ymcmb , mmg , chief kief, lil reese, 2 chainz bullshit that straight retards listen to...

  • tiego

    @asher1985 this is no way close 2 gkmc stop fuccin liein this is good but not classic

  • Bmagic da Beast

    I WAS WAITING ON THIS TO BE REVIEWED. EXPECTED A 4 1/2 BUT A 4 AINT BAD I GUESS. THIS ALBUM IS A CLASSIC TO ME. THERES ONLY 2 CUTS IM NOT REALLY FEELING, BUT EVEN THOSE JOINTS MIGHT GROW ON ME. BREATH OF FRESH AIR.

  • Mac N Cheese

    Mack Le' More is my favorite gay rapper! Good to see a gay rapper represent. Do your thang!

  • AK

    Great CD. Better every time I listen to it.

  • me

    Macklemore deserve more props for coming up with n major label or any radio play

  • mo

    greatness! Wish more people would listen to it

  • casper21

    this album and GKMC my two albums of the year, really impressed with this right here

  • asher1985

    so much better than kendrick lamar's album! the only song I truly just didn't care for was same love, but thats only because I have different ideology. regardless great album. oh and look for the meek mill album, thats also a banger!

  • Anonymous

    This album is dope, too bad more people will never even check it out. Or at least peep some songs on youtube. smh

  • DJ Booth

    The Internet has changed so much about our lives how we keep in touch with other people, how we shop, how we watch porn but its absolutely re-written the way we discover new music. Back in the day, lets say 1995, there were only two ways you found out about new music. One, the media (i.e. radio, MTV back when MTV played music, etc.). And two, your friend saying, Oh, you dont know about [insert artist name here]? You've got to hear him, Ill make you a tape. Mass media and word of mouth, that was it. If radio didn't play it or your friend didn't tell you about it, theres was approximately a snowballs chance in hell youd ever hear it. In 2012 though you can be sitting in a Manhattan high rise and listening to new music from Sao Paulo to Sydney, San Francisco to San Antonio, in a matter of seconds. So Id like to take a moment to virtually high-five the Internet for introducing me to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. If this was 1995 I know I wouldn't have heard the Seattle duo on the radio, and considering I grew up in Boston, I frankly doubt a friend would have passed me a tape. More likely than not, I would have spent my entire life without knowing there was an album like The Heist out there in the world, and that would have been a god damn shame. Itd be easy to call Macklemore a niche artist and by extension The Heist a niche album, and to some extend thats true; it certainly wasn't crafted to appeal to everyone and their momma. (Although, come to think of it, Heist would probably appeal to my momma.) But another great thing the Internet has shown us is that these niches are a whole lot bigger than anyone previously thought. Do you like rocking Thrift Store gear? Have you ever struggled with substance abuse? If your iPod filled with as much Allen Stone as ScHoolboy Q? You might think youre the only one, but it turns out youre one of thousands. In that sense Macklemore's music is as much about connecting fans to him as it is about connecting fans to each other. Just take the excellent Neon Cathedrals, featuring soul-drenched vocals from the aforementioned Allen Stone and intensely personal lyrics from Macklemore that once again delve into his now well-documented struggle with addiction. Id say its one of the more fearlessly honest songs I've heard in a long time if it weren't for Starting Over, which brings that struggle full circle as Macklemore admits to a relapse: Made my sobriety so public theres no fu**king privacy. Whether or not you can relate specifically, and if you can its extraordinary to hear your story in a hip-hop record, we can all relate to shame of disappointing those we care about. Same Love may cover a completely different struggle than Neon Cathedrals and Starting Over, the struggle for marriage equality, but it shares a willingness to say what so many others are too afraid to. It shouldn't be remarkable for a rapper to say something so simple as no freedom till were equal, damn right I support it, but at its core hip-hop has always been about giving a voice to those society tried to quiet, and while Same Love is far from the end, at least its a start. Ultimately, these songs and all of the songs on the album are stories, and to call Macklemore a storytelling rapper would be an understatement. He only tells stories, most often his own, it just turns out hes the kind of gifted storyteller that can keep you listening. While it obviously has its moments of darkness, The Heist is far from a dark album. Along with the catharsis comes plenty of release, most notably in the form of the impossibly catchy Cant Stop Us, which finds Ryan Lewis layering percussion on top of percussion into an automatic party starter. Joining in on the good times is Thrift Shop, which finds Macklemore taking a more laid back but equally catchy beat he milks for all the comic potential he can find. If youre looking for an antidote to Kanye and Jays super-uber-luxury rap, here it is. And if thats still not enough lightness to balance out the dark for you, might I recommend Gold and the riding White Walls? Sorry, not sure why I phrased that like a rhetorical question Id recommend Gold and White Walls. In so many ways the Internet has disconnected us, given us the false impression that liking a friends Facebook post is the same as sitting down and talking to our friend, allowed us to hide behind an endless array of screens from the other people in line at the bank. But its also made possible connections that wouldn't have been impossible even a decade ago, and The Heist has connected with me. Call it a testament to the power of powerful music to transcend even the limits of life in the digital age.

    • Rockwell

      Wow, that was a very nuanced analysis of the album and the state of hip hop today in general. As someone who grew up on 90s hip hop, I've also noticed the changes that have come in hip hop, especially the ease in which we can access and connect to new music. In some ways, I miss the old days, because there were CLEAR differences in hip hop across the country due to geographic differences, and it felt FRESH to me everytime I heard a new album from somewhere different. G-funk sounded different from Dirty South raps, which sounded different from Primo's boom bap. Nowadays, it seems like there aren't any differences in music made across regions, probably due to the ease in which we can share and access music across the digital space. The hip hop sound sounds more homogenized, at least to me. It seems like everyone is trying to copy that Drake/MMG type synthy sound to me. However, the web is the reason why I was able to stumble upon this beautiful album in the first place, so I guess I can't be too mad at the web!

  • real.

    I think this shit is grossly overrated, but salute to his actual movement.

  • RDCJ

    Finally reviewed this! I'm feeling this album!!

  • XXL

    Every rapper, no matter their background, has a unique story to tell. Yet, most choose to disclose little, if anything, that directly displays their individuality. Macklemore does the opposite. Sure, chunks of his story, within itself, deviate from what hip-hop is used to; the tale of a White kid from the Pacific Northwest who has battled addiction is new to the music in and of itself. But its his willingness to illuminate those very tales and characteristics that makes The Heist, his new album with producer Ryan Lewis, such a refreshing effort. Macklemore attacks an array of subjects that ultimately fit smoothly together thanks to their authenticity and Lewis intricate, tone-setting production throughout. On Wings, the MC contrasts his love for Air Jordans with the pitfalls of a culture of materialism, over a gloomy, horn and key-driven slow-building beat from Lewis, anchored with a hook from a chorus of children. With Same Love, Lewis provides bright and uplifting instrumentation to perfectly reflect Macklemores forward-thinking analysis of hip-hop and societys take on homosexuality and same sex marriage. Thrift Shop is a funky homage to the 2012 XXL Freshmans preferred place of shopping. The Ab-Soul-assisted Jimmy Iovine is a futuristic-sounding fictional tale of pulling a heist to secure a major-label deal, before realizing its not all its cracked up to be (Rather be a starving artist than succeed at getting fucked, he concludes). These are topics that, generally, have not been touched upon in rap music in these ways. This trend is typified on the deeply moving Starting Over, the finest moment on an album full of highlights. Much of the singularity of Macklemores narrative within the scope of hip-hop has been his openness about struggling with addiction and ultimately finding sobriety. Where a celebration of party-ready substances is the genres norm, the Seattle rapper has managed to speak to those on the otherside. With this Ben Bridwell-assisted track, though, he reveals that he relapsed, and all that came with it: letting down his parents, bringing his girl to tears, facing fans who thanked him for being a role model, but feeling like he was deceiving and disappointing them. Lewis sobering melody guides the reflection. Im just a flawed man/Man, I fucked up, Macklemore raps with a passionate cadence. Its a feeling anyone can cling to. Much how Talib Kweli feels that hes a Prisoner of Conscious, Macklemore bucks some of the confines within which hes been placed since his recent rise. Im not more or less conscious/Than rappers rappin bout them strippers up on the pole, copping/These interviews are obnoxious/Saying that, Its poetry, its so well spokenstop it, he pleads on A Wake. Heres the problem, with that, though. He continues with these very next lines to close the song: I grew up during Reaganomics/When Ice T was out there on his killing cop shit/Or Rodney King was getting beat on/And they let off every single officer/And Los Angeles went and lost it/Now every month there is a new Rodney on YouTube/Its just something our generation is used to/And neighborhoods where you never see a news crew/Unless theyre gentrifying, White people dont even cruise through/And my subconscious tellin me stop it/This is an issue that you shouldnt get involved in/Dont even tweet, R.I.P Trayvon Martin/Dont wanna be that White dude, Million Man Marchin/Fighting for a freedom that my people stole/Dont wanna make all my White fans uncomfortable/But you dont even have a fuckin song for radio/Why you out here talkin race, tryin to save the fuckin globe?/Dont get involved with the causes in mind/White privilege, White guilt, at the same damn time/So we just party like its 1999/Celebrate the ignorance while these kids keep dying Its these sort of astute observations on the human condition and keen self-awareness that set this effort apart. That reality, coupled with Ryan Lewis vast, daring and layered production, makes The Heist a truly beautiful album that challenges musical boundaries.