Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: The Heist

Released on October 9th of this year Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's newest album The Heist was welcomed with a number 1 spot on the US ITunes download listing. However, before it's release, The Heist was getting major love from NPR and as recently as today, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were given the Ellen DeGeneres bump with a performance on her show.

The current wave of success the hip hop duo is enjoying may have been kick started by the viral explosion of their infectious song and video Thrift Shop, but the message the duo wants you to hear is marriage equality. Their newest single, Same Love, addresses the issue. In the duo's native state of Washington, voters will decide the fate of this issue on the November ballot with Referendum 74. As a Marylander, I know that we will be looking forward to a similar decision on our ballot in Question 6, and nationwide the issue is a major talking point of the election.

The video for Macklemore's quirky hit Thrift Shop came into my world recently when a friend kicked it my way on Facebook. I loved the song's use of saxophone, slant rhyme, and hook, but furthermore, I loved that the song opened with the simple surface level idea of fun at a thrift shop, but had the deeper layer as an indictment of consumerism. After watching the video about 8 times in a row I was hooked and wanted to look a little deeper myself. If you haven't seen the video yet, check it out.

What I found was The Heist, the newest album from an emerging hip hop duo out of Washington State. I was also pleased to find that all the qualities of heart, humor, hook, and multiple lyrical layers that attracted me to Thrift Shop were prevelent through out the album as a whole. In the song Starting Over, Macklemore address his own struggles with addiction and sobriety, and in Wing$ he continues to slam consumerism by addressing the real value of sneakers on and off the basketball court, and in and out of the shoe box. With the song My Oh My Mackelmore penned his homage to the Seatle Mariners and their legendary deceased broadcaster Dave Niehaus. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the issue of marriage equality and the song Same Love.

As I previously wrote, Same Love is Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's anthem in support of marriage equality, and in this cut they share the microphone with Mary Lambert, the Seattle based lesbian singer-songwriter. Same Love is for marriage equality and LBGTQ rights what Oscar Peterson's Hymn To Freedom was for the Civil Rights Movement. Knowing the clear depth that these two have as a duo I would not be surprised if the song's harmonic accompaniment drew direct inspiration from this gospel/jazz classic.

If you would like to hear Oscar Peterson's Hymn to Freedom check out my very brief article from October of last year comparing the harmonic language of Franz Schubert and Oscar Peterson.

Same Love is direct in the way Macklemore addresses the use of slurs in the hip hop community and on social media comment boards, but it is also personal in his recounting of his relationship with his family, and in particular his uncle. I support this cause and will be acting upon this support by getting out and voting on November 6th. Will you?

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