This album was 3 years in the making…and it is worth every single one of them. For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are an MC/producer duo hailing from Seattle. After series of mixtapes and EP’s they began working on their debut LP in 2009. During this time they kept touring and periodically released songs for the album on Youtube until October 9th, when they gave us a gift known as The Heist. This is culmination of everything that is good about hip-hop. From a lyrical standpoint, Macklemore is on top of his game. I’ve always compared him to Eminem, but without the craziness. He shows his versatility as both an Mc and a lyricist throughout this record. He tackles serious subjects such as homophobia and gay marriage in “Same Love” but is still able maintain the lightheartedness that his fans love in “Thrift Shop.” Macklemore has you laughing on one track and in deep thought on another. Ryan Lewis’ production is just and good as the rapping. Every beat on this record is nasty, and I mean that in the best way possible. However, as good as Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are when you look at them as individuals, The Heist is proof that the whole is greater than the some of its parts. The years they have spent making music together are shown as Macklemore’s rhymes are beautifully complimented by Ryan Lewis’ production. The best part about The Heist is that there is something in it for everyone. Casual hip-hop fans and Top 40 listeners will like songs like “Can’t Hold Us” while underground hip-hopers will dig tracks like “Wing$.” It’s very rare that an album born in the underground attracts this type of mainstream attention. While I personally don’t listen to Top 40 radio, this is a record that not only deserves mainstream spins, but has the content to to draw in mainstream listeners while still pleasing underground listeners, like me. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are the champions are of a niche of hip-hop that has been ignored far too long. The popularity of The Heist gives hope to cynics like myself that good hip-hop not only lives, but can appeal to a mainstream audience as well. Along with Brother Ali’s Mourning in America & Dreaming in Color, The Heist is my second pick for album of the year. If Macklemore & Ryan Lewis keep making music of this quality, don’t be surprised if you one day hear their names mentioned in the same breath as Gang Starr, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, and Eric B. & Rakim.
--Max from House of Hip Hop