Rapper breathes life into hip-hop

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Photo by Photo from thecomeupshow via flickr.

Macklemore discusses more serious topics like gay marriage on his latest album.

The beats bump in your car, the bass rattles your windows, but who is that raspy white guy rapping about embracing equality and being yourself?

That’s Ben Haggerty, otherwise known as Macklemore, an up-and-coming artist born and raised in a racially divided neighborhood of Seattle. After overcoming a crippling drug addiction in 2009, Macklemore resurfaced with his debut album, “The Heist”, a collaboration with producer Ryan Lewis.

“The Heist,” properly named for Macklemore and Lewis’ taking back of hip-hop, has been in the works for three years. The album lived up to its hype when it was released Oct. 9. It features a variety of tracks ranging from upbeat songs like “Can’t Hold Us” and “Thrift Shop” to slower, more serious songs like “A Wake” and “Starting Over”.

Macklemore’s message on “The Heist” is refreshing. One of the most popular tracks on the album, “Thrift Shop,” teaches listeners a message that is rare to find in today’s society. Macklemore’s voice rolls over the smooth saxaphone as he mocks the materialism and conformity of our culture when he brags about “savin’ my money and I’m hella happy that’s a bargain.” In a humorous way, Macklemore not only takes down the high-society establishment, but also empowers listeners to wear what makes them feel good without breaking the bank.

The most powerful message on the album is delivered on the track “Same Love”. Growing up with two gay uncles, Macklemore has seen first hand the discrimination that homosexuals face in America today, and was inspired to speak out for gay rights in his latest album. The song tells the story of Macklemore’s coming-to-terms with the reality of inequality. A chilling, slow piano plays in the background and raises goosebumps on your arms when you hear Macklemore say, “they might not be the same, but that’s not important. No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it.”

Macklemore’s rise to the top hasn’t been smooth; but his controversial lyrics have done exactly what he’d planned on doing all along.

By stepping outside of traditional hip-hop, he has brought attention to the causes and beliefs that he holds closest to him. If “The Heist” is a preview of what else is to come from the dream team of Macklemore and Lewis, listeners have a lot to look forward to.