Being a white rapper in 2016 must be a tough job judging by the amount of self-analysis that Macklemore makes on this album, aided trustily by producer Ryan Lewis. Rather than follow his heart in musical matters (apologies for the corniness), he tries desperately to appease both his fans who have grown accustomed to his bombastic rap and the hip-hop elders who he wants to emulate. The desperation sadly shows on this second album This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, although there are moments of brilliance.
One such moment is lead single Downtown with that catchy riff the only thing needed to carry lyrics of riding mopeds and being so retro it hurts. The highlight of the song ia undoubtedly the raw and dramatic voice of Eric Nally, which leaves you wishing the chorus would hurry up and come already. Dance Off is just so absurd it’s genius, what with its cameo from Idris Elba, who opens the track with that deep booming voice that the film industry cash in on. It is the perfect example of how Macklemore makes each track musically different and interesting; the darkness of the music is juxtaposed with the quirky lyrics and the style in which they are delivered seems to encapsulate the musical progression of the whole 2000s the way it changes. Brad Pitt’s Cousin is equally as bizarre yet is ridiculously infectious and the beat instantly induces dancing. If only the album could follow this formula throughout.
Opening track Light Tunnels is another that capitalises on the drama provided by Lewis’ production. The track opens sounding like a Bond theme with its anguished cries and echoey violins before Macklemore begins his peace and ruins the illusion. Not even the addition of a piano and the crash of cymbals can return it to the opening twenty seconds. That is one of the things that tends to ruin most of the songs; not Macklemore himself but the lyrics he is spitting. They often delve too deeply for pop music and, while I am sure he is truly trying to use his music to better the world as so many are, no matter how passionately he delivers the sentiment, it is never truly believable. Let’s Eat is the description of the troubles regarding weight that everyone seems to have an issue with today. Whilst it may have been effective, the message is lost in the boredom that the track induces. The melody is a sped up version of Same Love and the issue of repetiveness is one that plagues the album. Each issue he sings about seems like he is only doing it because it’s relevant to now rather than because he genuinely cares. Maybe if Macklemore is more true to himself, then the brilliant bizarreness that creeps through occasionally will be clear for all too see. Until then, Dance Off is on repeat.
For fans of: Mac Miller, Childish Gambino, Asher Roth
Words by Clara Duffy
‘This Unruly Mess I’ve Made’ by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis is out now.