The Heist is a fitting title for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ official debut. Seemingly in broad daylight, the independent contractors infiltrated Middle America, made their demands, and robbed naysaysers blind. Anchored entirely by Ryan Lewis’ sonic boom, Macklemore begins their caper with “Ten Thousand Hours” and follows up with the irresistible “Can’t Hold Us”. He offers pieces of himself (“Neon Cathedral”, “Make The Money”, ”Starting Over”) and even has some fun (“Thrift Shop”) in the process. As far as social commentary goes, he handles controversy with “Same Love” while questioning materialism on the Nike-inspired “Wing$”. As one of game’s most sought after free agents, Mack knows his self worth. And on the album’s crown jewel “Jimmy Iovine”, he imagines a meeting with a greedy label bigwig. Macklemore and Ryan got what they came for. Luckily, we all get to bear witness.
’12 Underrated Albums
Everyone likes when a plan comes together. Such is the case when producer El-P hooked up with Killer Mike to score last year’s R.A.P. Music (Rebellious African People). Bun B, T.I. and Trouble set the tone on the lyrical monster “Big Beast”. But make no mistake, Mike’s no slouch. He’s meaner than John Hinckley Jr. on ”Reagan” and engrossing with narratives like “JoJo’s Chillin” and “Don’t Die”. He catches the holy ghost on the title track and wrestles with his spirituality on “Ghetto Gospel”. Before closing out the project, he saves the best for last with the ode to his grandfather, “Willie Burke Sherwood”. It’s safe to say, hip-hop’s got a new people’s champ.
I’m starting to think y’all niggas take DJ Khaled for granted. Maybe it’s because the Mouth of The South continues to make amazing all-star collabos look so easy. “Bitches and Bottles” is one of his career best with an infectious Future hook and a rejuvenated T.I.’s opening bars. “I got my own shine/But I want yours.” Khaled has always been able to get the most out of an MC. Who else could motivate Kanye West to spaz out like he did on the Hit Boy-powered “I Wish You Would”? And don’t get me started on “Hip Hop”, a legendary exchange between NaS, Scarface and DJ Premier on the culture we all love. For that joint alone, Kiss The Ring should’ve moved way more units. But y’all all lamed out. I hope you really appreciate the next time DJ Khaled comes out.
Curren$y loves to flood the game with free music, but last year, he made fans come out of pocket with his major Warner Bros. debut, The Stoned Immaculate. Through the clouds of smoke, Spitta pulls up with a bundle of standouts (“Chandelier”, “Showroom”). He’s equipped with witty lines (“Sunroof”, “Chasin’ Papers”, ) and stands tall amongst collaborators as evidenced by “No Squares” (Wiz Khalifa), “What It Look Like” (Wale), “Fast Cars, Faster Women” (Daz), “Capitol” (2 Chainz), “That’s The Thing” (Estelle) and oh, let’s not forget,the impressive “Take You There” (Marsha Ambrosius). Make no mistake, the jet setter has officially taken off. Stoners rejoice.
On track one of Control System, Ab-Soul professed to being the underdog and secret weapon. That’s actually a fair assessment. As Top Dawg Entertainment’s most enigmatic artist, Soul announces his arrival with “Track Two” and shortly after, delivers a mean hook alongside Danny Brown on “Terrorist Threats”. He dumps a full clip on the Kendrick Lamar-featured “ILLuminate” and then surveys the damage with calm (“A Rebellion”, “Empathy”). It’s politics as usual and on “Beautiful Death”, The Black Lip Bastard turns his face at the status quo. The system was never meant to be controlled, but at least Soul makes it a noteworthy listen.