Here at Gavel Media, we have made no secret of our love for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, an independent rapper/DJ duo from Seattle. With the release of his first full-length LP “The Heist” at number one on iTunes, Macklemore vaulted onto the popular music scene after more than six years of working the underground circuit. His fan base is a loyal one, having stuck through his name change (Professor Macklemore dropped the “Professor” in 2005, thank goodness), his drug addiction, his recovery and his relapse.
Thankfully “The Heist” was worth the wait, with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis taking rap to groundbreaking new levels of depth and acceptance. The Heist tour will be stopping here in Boston tomorrow night, Thursday Nov. 15, at the House of Blues, but good luck getting a ticket for the sold-out show. Floor seats have been going for about $150 on Craigslist.
For those of you who are lucky enough to go to the show, study up on these gems. To those of you who weren’t on top of your game when the tickets went on sale in July, feel free to cry yourself to sleep while listening to this playlist as we bring you:
THE TOP TEN SONGS BY MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS.
10. Life is Cinema (VS. EP)
The early years of the duo resulted in their “VS. EP”, a mish-mosh of songs that were not cohesive aesthetically or thematically. One of the standouts from this project, “Life is Cinema,” borrows heavily from the song “All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers for the hook. It’s audibly a less-skillfully-assembled mix compared to songs on “The Heist,” but “Life is Cinema” has that infective pounding beat which characterizes most of Macklemore’s music.
9. Ten Thousand Hours (The Heist)
The opening track on “The Heist” is a testament to the hard work Macklemore and Ryan Lewis put in to this album. To the 10,000 documented hours they spent in the recording studio, to be specific. It’s the musical manifestation of the phrase “practice makes perfect.” One of the best lines in the song is a tribute to this dedication, “you see I studied art/the greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great because they paint a lot.”
8. Jimmy Iovine (The Heist)
Written as a commentary on the music industry, “Jimmy Iovine” directly addresses the chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M recording company. He’s credited with the discovery of Eminem, he’s produced for Enrique Iglesias, Dr. Dre and Lady Gaga. But Macklemore has issues with this guy and everything he stands for. He’d “rather be a starving artist than succeed at getting f*cked.” This aptly sums up Macklemore’s thoughts on record labels as he chose to produce and release “The Heist” independently. No one is left untouched in “Jimmy Iovine.” Watch out for the imitation Rick Ross HOUGGGGH noise scattered throughout the song.
7. White Walls (The Heist)
Something you might have noticed about Macklemore songs by this point: the hook is often the most beautiful part of the song. The same holds true for Hollis’ cameo in “White Walls,” a song dedicated to Macklemore’s Cadillac (which incidentally makes an appearance in the video of our #1 pick). She croons “Got that off-black Cadillac, midnight drive/Got that gas pedal leaning back, taking my time/I’m blown’ that roof off, letting in sky/I shine, the city never looks so bright.” Clearly this song was written for blasting during reckless 2 a.m. drives with friends.
6. Otherside (VS. EP)
“Otherside” is without a doubt the darkest, most personal song that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have yet to produce. It addresses Macklemore’s addiction to codeine syrup, or “purple draaank” as Lil Wayne calls it. He speaks to Wayne directly, and chastises the rap community for not being more aware of their influence on the lives of young kids: “Despite how Lil Wayne lives, it’s not conducive to being creative.” “Otherside” displays Macklemore’s genuine concern for humanity, which is a refreshing insight from the hip-hop and rap community.
5. Can’t Hold Us (The Heist)
Ryan Lewis particularly shines in this catchy song off “The Heist.” His beats are amazingly complimentary to Macklemore’s rap. “Can’t Hold Us” showcases Lewis’ development as an artist in comparison to his early work, when he mainly borrowed beats from other artists. Macklemore notes the development of the beats on “The Heist” by rapping, “And I’m eating at the beat like you gave a little speed to a great white shark on shark week WAHHH.”
4. Irish Celebration (VS. EP)
If this wasn’t the anthem of your St. Patrick’s Day celebration last year, shame on you. Irish heritage is not normally rapped about, let alone so eloquently: “I’m kidding, not dissing London in this bloody bar, but go against the Irish and get a bloody jaw.” He’s just celebrating life with all of his “Irish goons,” something we can all appreciate here at BC, where approximately 90 percent of us are at least half Irish.
3. And We Danced (The Unplanned Mixtape)
The first official hit for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis came in the form of this bizarre dance anthem performed by Macklemore’s alter-ego Raven Bowie (think Sasha Fierce to Beyonce). This song has an AMAZING live performance. But to really appreciate “And We Danced,” you should learn all of the words to the song, ideally by blasting this song in the shower and performing a little rap/dance routine. It’s really the only way to go.
2. Same Love (The Heist)
With “Same Love” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis become the only hip-hop artists ever to address the issue of marriage equality for the GLBTQ community in their music. Lesbian singer Mary Lambert makes a beautiful appearance in the hook, while Macklemore raps, “It’s human rights for everyone there is no difference.” Preach.
1. Thrift Shop (The Heist)
Arguably the best song ever written. There are probably many of you who disagree with that statement. Too bad losers, it’s an amazingly catchy song, with surprise anti-consumerism undertones. You could argue that it’s a commentary on our wasteful society, but Macklemore was most likely just really pumped and inspired by the Batman onesie he bought at Goodwill. Feel free to read deeper meaning into it, or just bust out the moves and break into a spontaneous dance party.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis will be performing here in Boston at the House of Blues Thursday, Nov. 15 . Doors open at 7:00 p.m.