A Hip-Hop Review From Somebody Who Doesn’t Listen To Hip-Hop

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not that in to hip-hop. However, my knowledge and experience has slowly progressed over time. Starting from the top, my first cassette tape I owned was the single Jump by Kris Kross that my brother gave me when I was five. I grew up listening to the Beastie Boys, from their earlier punk/hardcore roots to their later ventures into the hip-hop realm. But as I got older and the “bitches & hoes” lyrics took over the radio waves, I was turned off. Any modern rap and hip-hop that I listened to, although I could tap my foot to, lacked substance in my eyes. Now before my fellow contributors jump down my throats, I do realize their are some exceptions.

The real straw was drawn when I ran a recording studio in Atlanta and had to deal with some real “thug” rappers from the suburbs. Oh, please…

Not too long ago I was randomly listening to the radio, which is quite rare for me. Thrift Shop by Macklemore (**EXPLICIT**) came on and it immediately caught my ears. It’s nothing spectacular in it’s entirety, however it was different. With it’s catchy beats and more of a lyricist approach to the song, I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t long after that I first heard Same Love; a controversial song that hit the inter-webs rather quickly. We’ll get to that more in a minute.

A friend of mine recently challenged me to take a full listen to The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. I switched on my Spotify on a sunny day here in Atlanta and drove around listening to the album. I was hooked from song one. For those of you who prefer a clean version, Spotify does have a clean and explicit version available.

The album kicks off with “Ten Thousand Hours”, a song that truly embodies what it takes to “make it” in the world. I’ve always been heavily involved in personal development and what it takes to be successful. Maybe I’m being elitist here, but I felt like I understood this song more than the average 15 year old girl demographic would. The song is an ode to Malcom Gladwell’s book OutliersThe book contains a theory Gladwell calls the 10,000 Hour Rule, which he believes is the key to any persons success. The 10,000 Hour Rule is simple; it takes 10,000 hours to truly master something. Twenty hours a week for 10 years = 10,000 hours. For Macklemore to reference this immediately caught my attention and respect.

The album moves on and of course contains the single Thrift Shop, a smart take on the normal songs you’d hear on the radio these days. Although extremely over-played, the song deserves it. This song is much more than a catchy chorus and rhythm;  it’s about not allowing materialistic items to consume your life. Not to mention the video is amazing. (**EXPLICIT**)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK8mJJJvaes]]

A couple of songs later is the aforementioned Same Love featuring Mary Lambert. As I mentioned, this song hit the internet and ran. In Same Love, Macklemore addresses the extremely controversial issue of homosexuality & gay marriage. Now I know what you’re thinking, here’s another political song to get to the little kiddies. Wrong, this song is done tastefully and with much substance. Despite your opinions on the issue (let’s please save the political debates) this song is done well and deserves the attention it gets. I applaud him for the way he tackles the the issue and a job well done on a great song. Although explicit at times, I’ll post the video below for you to listen to. I think the explicit nature of the song actually adds to the overall feel. For an interesting take on this song, I highly recommend reading this article, click here to check it out.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlVBg7_08n0]

I won’t just speak of the hits though, the album continues strong with songs such as Neon Cathedral, a song about sin that is brought on by alcohol abuse. It is also the first time on the the album that Macklemore sheds light on his former alcohol & substance abuse issues. The overall feeling of the song is definitely low and sad, but extremely well done.

Another song to note is Jimmy Iovine. This song is basically about Macklemores climb to success and the struggle along the way. I really enjoy this song because it’s an in-depth look into the music business which has always been intriguing to me. The end of the song is a meeting between him and Interscope records CEO, Jimmy Iovine, where Iovine makes a really greedy offer to sign him, and Macklemore takes offense to it. Love the concept of this song.

I wish I could go on about each song, but the article would be 20,501 words long. However, I urge you to take a listen to the album. Even if this isn’t your normal “cup of tea”, I promise you’ll find something in the album that grabs you and pushes you to listen again and again.

Grab it on iTunes Here.


About Adam Kappel

Adam is a co-founder of State-Lines.com, an entrepreneur, and lover of all things sports, movies and music.