It’s not every day you listen to a record and think, with nearly every song, “Hey, dude has a point.”
But that’s what I’ve been doing with “The Heist,” the new CD by rapper Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis. He’s released several EPs and mixtapes over the years but “The Heist” is his debut studio record, and songs off “The Heist” like the hilarious “Thrift Shop” and “Same Love” have been garnering him millions of YouTube hits.
I fell in love with “Thrift Shop” over the summer and now I love every song on “The Heist.”
Macklemore’s lyrics – delivered in his warm, raspy voice – are socially-minded, soulful, confessional, hilarious. “The Heist” isn’t 15 or so songs about how awesome he is. He covers a variety of topics, from the evils of the music industry to drug abuse to thriftiness (and I love this Ann Powers piece about how he’s not just being trendy by shopping at thrift stores but actually talking about how it’s an economically smart move) to love to gay marriage.
And, as I said, Macklemore has a point. Whether or not you agree with him, he has many smart observations, and his concise, funny, honest delivery is what makes “The Heist” worth a spin.
Here are some of my favorite Macklemore observations and lyrics:
On paying for name-brand clothes in the song “Thrift Shop”: “They be like, ‘Oh that Gucci, that’s hella tight’/I’m like, ‘Yo, that’s $50 for a T-shirt,’/Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition/$50 for a T-shirt…I call that getting tricked by a business.”
On “Same Love,” a track supporting gay rights: “America the brave still fears what we don’t know… If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me/Have you read the YouTube comments lately/’Man, that’s gay’ gets dropped on the daily/We become so numb to what we’re saying/A culture founded from oppression/Yet we don’t have acceptance for ‘em.”
The confrontational “Jimmy Iovine” tells the story of Macklemore turning down a not-so-great major label deal and he ends it with this line: “Rather be a starving artist than succeed at getting f—-d.”
The cool thing is that yeah, it’s a hip-hop record, but you hear so many gorgeous instruments and sounds you just wouldn’t expect on a typical hip-hop CD. There’s a breathtaking piece mid-way through the record called “BomBom,” an instrumental piece that takes you on quite a ride.
And there are tons of cool guest singers on this record. Allen Stone lends his soulful voice to the intense “Neon Cathedral,” while Band of Horses lead singer Ben Bridwell’s gorgeous voice adds a bit of hope to “Starting Over,” Macklemore’s confessional about his drug abuse.
There are plenty of reasons to check out “The Heist,” but take it from me: you’ll laugh, you may cry, you’ll definitely be entertained.