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Not Your Grandpa’s Hip Hop

I realize I’m a little late to the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis party; I didn’t fall in love with the pair until I heard the first bars of “Thrift Store” a month ago. It was while watching the video, when producer Lewis pulls up wearing a fur coat in a DeLorean while MC Macklemore (also sporting a fur coat) scoots over, resting on the arms of two Slurpee-sucking hotties, that I knew I was smitten. The lyrics are fun and smart without veering too far into campy. They have me convinced that stealing my grandpa’s style is a strike of novel brilliance (I wear your granddad’s clothes, I look incredible).

If there is anyone out there who is like me, woefully in the dark about this Seattle-based duo, trust me when I say they are worth getting to know. The latest in a fairly long line of socially conscious hip-hop artists, Macklemore doesn’t just spit game about footie pajamas (of the fleece Batman persuasion, mind you) bought for a quarter. In other circles he’s known as Ben Haggerty, a man who has struggled with, and beat, an addiction to OxyContin and a vocal supporter of equal rights and gay marriage. There is a “real talk” aspect to his songs that in no way feels trite or forced.  

The album that features “Thrift Store” is called The Heist. It’s Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ first full-length studio effort and it shot to number one on iTunes within hours of being released earlier this month. Macklemore’s quick-witted lyrics are just about the only common thread running through the 15 tracks. “Ten Thousand Hours” has a dreamy beat that would satisfy any synth pop fan, “Neon Cathedral” is a sweet, slow jam and “BomBom” is a beautiful, lyric-less lesson in beat building.

Above all, the album displays the sheer versatility of both gents and their ability to make listeners laugh and think. Here’s to hoping Saturday evening will be full of opportunities to do both. 

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis play with DEE-1 and Luck-One 8 pm Saturday, Oct. 20, at McDonald Theatre; Sold out.