The Album I Can’t Stop Listening To

Ok, as usual, I’m a little late to the party on this one.  I recently discovered that there is more to the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ouvre than the popular Thrift Shop.  I seriously can’t stop listening to their album The Heist.

Now, my knowledge of hip hop (I don’t even know if it’s supposed to be hyphenated or not?) goes just an inch beyond none, so I can’t really speak to the quality of the album or Macklemore’s rapping skills.  What I like about it is the way it paints a picture of the life of the struggling artist that I, as a struggling artist myslef, find wonderfully relatable and encouraging.  Even the very tongue-in-cheek Thrift Shop fits into this theme, as it addresses trying to look hip and edgy and current with very little money to spend.

The album opens with 10 Thousand Hours, an almost religious invocation whose titular hook references the concept popularized by Malcom Gladwell that it takes 10,000 hours of dilligent practice to master a skill.  Macklemore brags that after years of working toward his dream he finally has the priveledge of doing what he loves for a living, finally getting an “iTunes check,” and “payin’ rent.”

10 Thousand Hours moves right into a relentless, fast-driving anthem about the thrill of performing.  Mackemore’s lightning-fast rapping about letting “the stage lights shine on down,” and “giving it back to the people, spread it across the country,” and then the hook comes in:

“And we go back; this is the moment;
Tonight is the night; we’ll fight till its over.
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us.”

That song makes me want to dance until I collapse.

There is a track about the strain the pursuit of success as a performer can put on a relationship, a track about refusing to compromise your art for money, a couple very candid tracks about dealing with addiction.

Then there’s Jimmy Levine, a tense, high-energy epic, reminiscent of Eminem’s Lose Yourself.  It tells the story of breaking into the office of a record label in order to demand an audience with the president.  It declares “All I ever dreamt about was makin’ it.  They ain’t givin it, I’m takin’ it.”  It ends with a little twist that I won’t spoil.

I listen to this album and I think, Yes!  I can put in my 10,000 hours, and I can make the sacrifices I need to make in order to achieve the life I want.  Macklemore dreamed of being a rapper.  He and Ryan Lewis independently produced an album that, as of this writing, has sold over 600,000 copies.

I dream of being an opera singer, and making my living on singing.  I dream of traveling from opera house to opera house, portraying heroines like Tosca, Norma, Minnie, Aida, maybe even Isolde or Sieglinde or Brunnhilde.  The Heist makes me feel like I’m just 7,000 or so hours away from that.

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