Ben Haggerty, popularly known now for his stage name Macklemore, is a Seattle-based rapper who started his career in 2000 independently and has released a mixtape, three EP’s and two albums without any major labels accompanying him. He has now teamed up with record producer Ryan Lewis and together they created history as the first duo to have their first two singles (Thrift Shop and Can’t Hold Us) reach number one on Billboard Hot 100.
Their debut album, The Heist, is also a huge success as it peaked at number 2 on Billboard 200. I love both of their first two singles so let’s see if the other tracks are worth a listen.
- Ten Thousand Hours – From the get go, I think that this song is DOPE. The song tells Macklemore’s story of “making it.” This is a pretty fun song and I just could not help myself from bopping my head to the beat. What an explosive way to open a debut album.
- Can’t Hold Us feat. Ray Dalton – Of course how would you not like this song? Although Thrift Shop came out first, I actually got more interested with this duo when I heard this song. The combination of Macklemore’s fast-paced rapping and heart-pumping saxophone-based break plus the anthemic chorus courtesy of Ray Dalton made this song what would Mariah Carey call as a tour de force. Ironically, Ray Dalton baritone voice elevates this epic song to greater heights. Aside from Blurred Lines, this is my song of the Summer.
- Thrift Shop – This is their very first single and their very first number one. It’s very pleasing to the ears that you can easily fall in love with this upbeat track while dancing to it. THIS IS FCKING AWESOME!
- Thin Line feat. Buffalo Madonna – And the killer songs just go on and on and on! I am loving the vibe of this album so far and we’re just four songs in! Thin Line tells the story of a bad break-up followed by an awful break-up sex, I think. This chorus part has been in my head for quite some time now.
- Same Love feat. Mary Lambert – Now things get a little emotional with this socially-relevant song about homosexuality, gay marriage, love and equality. The hook by Mary Lambert is gut-wrenching and so heartfelt that I can literally feel her heart and soul through the music, so as Macklemore’s powerful verses. THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE MASTERPIECE.
- Make The Money – Another upbeat track that will leave you raising and bouncing your hands in the air, while chanting “Make the money, don’t let the money make you | Change the game, don’t let the game change you.” What I like about Macklemore is that, aside from his amazing rapping skills, his voice is pleasing to the ears. Another great song, damn it.
- Neon Cathedral feat. Allen Stone – Right now I am so OVERWHELMED with what I have been hearing through the speakers. Neon Cathedral is yet another fantastic track. This song sheds light to Macklemore’s former drinking problem. Allen Stone, although unknown, delivers an amazing vocals in the chorus that is reminiscent of the late-MJ.
- BomBom – With an overwhelming first part of The Heist, I think I needed a break. And I guess Macklemore & Ryan Lewis knew what I was thinking, because BomBom is an instrumental interlude. Even though this is without vocals, Ryan Lewis’ creativity in production shines through.
- White Walls feat. ScHoolboy Q & Hollis – I have no idea about the persons they are collaborating with, but weirdly enough, everything works. After an appropriate break, we are brought back in the middle of a nice, upbeat track. What more can I say, yet another amazing track. After abhorring material things in Thrift Shop and Make The Money, this track is a little bit on the other side of things: being plainly materialistic (Candy-painted Cadillacs included).
- Jimmy Iovine feat. Ab-Soul – Yes, this song is entitled Jimmy Iovine, hilarious it may sound. Another track about Macklemore’s success-story from the bottom to the top, Jimmy Iovine (the song!) is hitting hard on hip-hop, and it hits so hard! At the end of this song/story, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are caught by Jimmy Iovine and offers them a shitty deal (sharing 7% of their earnings-kinda-deal) and the song ends funny.
- Wing$ – This song is pretty cool and cute as Macklemore talks about his very first pair of shoes and his struggles of fitting in. As simple as it seems, what makes this track memorable is the oh-so staggering production. INCREDIBLE.
- A Wake feat. Evan Roman – This track gives a bit of a throwback feel. Macklemore is such an amazing artist as he plays his words in a witty fashion, mixing waking up with wake of that of a funeral that exemplifies Macklemore’s “waking up” from his dark past of drug and alcohol addiction.
- Gold feat. Eighty4 Fly – Another fun track! The synthesizers in the background almost hypnotize you while Macklemore’s incredible rapping and Eighty4 Fly’s cool voice take the driver’s seat. I am also feeling the Nelly-vibe in this track, not that I am complaining.
- Starting Over feat. Ben Bridwell – Now I get it: Macklemore is an EMO rapper! All of his songs either reflect on his past life or to what he wants to express from his inner core. This track tells his story of being an inspiration to others while keeping his own life intact. “If could be an example of getting sober, then I could be an example of Starting Over.” WOW. REMARKABLE. (I am lost for adjectives!)
- Cowboy Boots – With the guitar solo in the beginning, It looks like this track is going to the country route. Well, I guess i am right. Aptly titled, Cowboy Boots is a rap-country-folk mash-up and with that, this is my least favorite song in the album!
Final Thoughts: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis just gained a new fan: ME! The Heist is a perfect balance of catchy melodies, thought-provoking messages, and not to mention, hardcore rapping. The Heist is a hip-hop masterpiece. One of my favorite albums of the year.
Songs to be put on your Playlist: Same Love, Can’t Hold Us, Neon Cathedral, Make The Money, Wing$, Thrift Shop, Starting Over, Thin Line…damn it, put EVERYTHING except the last track I guess!
5 out of 5