It is Sunday, October 14, 2012. Welcome to the next generation of Hip-Hop and independent music! I’m proud to write this article regarding the current #1 Album on Itunes, “The Heist” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. This much-anticipated 18 track deluxe (15 track regular) debut album by the northwest caucasian lyricist from Seattle, WA is a completely independent effort with no major label involvement whatsoever.
Over the course of the past couple years, Macklemore and his producer Ryan Lewis have worked tirelessly touring, recording, and filming viral music videos while building a deeply loyal fan-base to support their independent movement. His fan base grew large enough to vote him onto the list of XXL’s annual Freshmen class of 2012, and since then has grown immensely. A fan base that has included myself since I first saw and met him at SXSW 2010.
Macklemore is an extremely unique and signature artist, articulately expressing his rhymes with a soft, sincere quality that dances over every beat. His lyrics are comprised with a depth and emotion any listener can literally feel and relate to. Unlike much of his genre peers, his material is based on real-life experiences of normal middle class struggles, touching on topics such as addiction and consumerism. Perfect examples are “Starting Over” and “WIng$”. “Neon Cathedral” is a testimonial of alcoholism and the battles one faces that lead to a loss in religious faith.
Its more than the unique style of Macklemore’s raps, but also the authentic and organic sounds Ryan Lewis uses for the instrumentation behind the music. Many tracks are formulated on various horns, strings, and keys over heavy drums with little to no sampling. Though themes are prevalent on every track, “Cant Hold Us,” “Thrift Shop,” and “Gold” are uplifting ballads that are whip-ready for head bopping. “White Walls” featuring Schoolboy Q is a rider anthem while “Jimmy Iovine” featuring Ab-Soul is a hypothetical portrayal of an artist faced with a choice to sign a major label deal and the unspoken consequences that come with that success. Of course “Same Love” tackles the controversial subject of same-sex marriage, a topic that is completely overlooked and ignored in all popular music.
From opening to closing, this is by far one the best album release of 2012 in my opinion, and possibly one of the most complete albums I’ve ever heard. I’ve read some ridiculous responses to a few of Macklemore’s choices for subject matter, but one cannot deny his creativity and originality. Make no doubt about it, this release is a triumphant achievement for not only a more obscure side of hip-hop, but for completely independent music as a whole. I promise you as an artist and fan alike, this is only the beginning for what the future has in store for the success of independent music.
Buy The Album Now
The Heist by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis