More than just the story of yet another pop sensation among many, the success of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis is indicative of a major shift in the power structure of the modern music industry.
The duo – a rapper (Macklemore) and a dude with a laptop (Ryan Lewis), essentially – sold in excess of 2 million copies of its breakthrough single, “Thrift Shop,” without the involvement of a major record label, making it the first act to do so. How? Well, while other independent artists have employed YouTube to make a name for themselves, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were the first to do so on a major level, with serious and significant financial results.
The success of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “The Heist” marked the first time an artist turned mega-hits and views on YouTube into a Top 5-charting album. That on its own makes the duo a groundbreaking one. But Macklemore and Lewis also bring a slightly goofy, playful edge to contemporary hip-hop, as well as a topical frankness in the lyric department, as evidenced by “Same Love” and “Can’t Hold Us,” both of which are notable for their lack of misogynist attitudes and tendency toward an outlook marked by tolerance.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis bring “The Heist Tour” to the First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Talib Kweli and Big K.R.I.T. will share opening duties.
– Jeff Miers