Macklemore x Ryan Lewis "The Heist" Album Review
The Heist is the debut album by Seattle, WA-based hip hop duo Macklemore (vocals) & Ryan Lewis (production). Notably reached the #1 spot on the iTunes charts upon release despite no major label-backing. The Heist is currently available via iTunes.
The Heist is a grand follow-through for all of the critically acclaimed viral music videos (ie: "Wing$", "Otherside (Remix)", "Same Love") the duo has been releasing for the past year or so. The XXL Freshman placement for Macklemore didn't hurt things either. Packaged in a faux-gator skin casing (read: Bawse!), the deluxe edition of the LP features 3 bonus tracks and collectible pieces of artwork for each individual track. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' only have a few official tracks released yet they have been able to tour across the country and sell out venues. A 18 track album is surely a satisfying reward for such a faithful following.
Macklemore is one hell of a writer. He writes his heart out and makes vivid stories in song format that has just the right words and devices to reel the audience in. The transitions between narration and actual rapping are so natural that there are times where you can't tell if there was even a transition to begin with.
Ryan Lewis has an intricately cinematic and wholesome sound to his production incorporating live instruments and a wide array of singers ranging from indie pop (Mary Lambert on "Same Love") to soul (Ray Dalton on "Can't Hold Us") vocalists and even a choir of children ("Wing$") on hooks. While every track has some great production quality, some of these tracks falter in enhancing Macklemore's lyrics due to overproduction. Some of these beats could have been a little more simple.
While every song had some very interesting elements to them whether it be instrumentation or written perspectives, there was a case of severe inconsistency due to Macklemore picking rather redundant issues to speak on such as the record industry/musical struggle or Ryan Lewis swaying too far left with his genre-blending tendencies.
The Heist has more substance than most rap albums. There are a wide array of subjects tackled such as consumerism, same-sex marriage, alcohol addiction, White privilege, relapse and more all personally experienced by Macklemore. There are many dark moments throughout the album, but when Macklemore wants to make a fun song such as the upper class mockery track "Thrift Shop", he still incorporates his conscious awareness into it without coming off as preachy.
One word to describe The Heist: "passionate". It almost feels as if Macklemore is urging you to understand what he's talking about, yet all he's doing is letting the listener walk in his shoes. This is an album with a lot of heart and soul poured into each story presented and Ryan Lewis makes sure that the production creates that epic foundation for them.
- All "Keeper" tracks on The Heist have a timeless quality to them as performance pieces and emotionally gripping stories with a brilliant chemistry between Macklemore's lyricism and Ryan Lewis' production. When the album reaches its highs, those highs are incredible.
- Everything below "Mediocre" occurs when Mack & Ryan fail to match each others energy. Another big issue is the majority of overly clean voiced singers used for not-so-appealing choruses. The lone featured rap verse by ScHoolboy Q on "White Walls" was random and unnecessary while "Jimmy Iovine" might have benefited from a verse from Ab-Soul instead of a chorus.