Maybe you recognise these two from being plastered all over the internet, or at least heard their indelible ear worms hogging the air waves since their eighth single ‘Thrift Shop’ hit the top of the charts in seven different countries? Well last night, the US twosome headlined a show at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and it sold out to boot! So what exactly is the deal with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis?
Oh those goofballs who sing about thrift shops. They’re a parody act, right?
Actually no. Despite frolicking through a second-hand store in ridiculous fur coats for Number One single ‘Thrift Shop’, Seattle’s rapper/producer duo Macklemore (Ben Haggerty to his mum) and Ryan Lewis are serious guys. Take ‘Same Love’, this single deals with same-sex marriage in Washington State, which was legalised in Dec 2012.
I thought hip hop lyrics were typically homophobic?
The times they are a-changed. Rappers have been speaking out against anti-gay lyrics for years now, namely Kanye West, who compared the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement on MTV in 2005. Plus, Macklemore’s rhymes tend to focus on himself – he has songs about his addiction to cough syrup and struggle to get a record deal, but also one about baseball.
Ok, so he likes a bit of batting. It still sounds too heavy-going for my liking.
That’s where Lewis comes in – his hooky production keeps the songs fluid. On the instrumental ‘BomBom’, he shows off his talent for slickly mixing clean instruments such as blaring brass and piano, with percussive elements, synths and drum samples.
Surely two men can’t replicate all this live?
You’d think so, but Macklemore & Ryan Lewis can. They even take the lead from Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince by rocking the DJ/MC set-up with backing dancers and trendy threads. Thus ensuring that, no matter how many silly videos they’re remembered for, their hip hop image remains intact.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Pretty fly for two socially conscious white guys. Danielle Goldstein
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis play O2 Brixton Academy, Sep 9-10; tickets available here.