By: Sam Fleming
Macklemore’s newest project, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, has two extremes; boring apologetic slow jams where he struggles with an internal conflict, and corny, goofy turn-up songs. This album has trouble finding balance between these extremes, which ultimately leads to a cluttered mess. Not many people want to hear a rapper constantly apologizing for his faults, they just want to hear good music. Sadly, This Unruly Mess I’ve made has very little good music.
First, there’s the problem that his self-reflective tracks, although thoughtful and genuine, tend to be incredibly bland. There’s the slow “Growing Up” where he gives his new child advice like “Wear a helmet, don’t be stupid.” Followed by “St. Ides” and “Kevin” where he addresses his struggles with addiction and while the lyrics are somewhat interesting, his flow and the instrumentals become painfully repetitive. Then, there’s the final track on the album, “White Privilege II” which was released as a single for this album. Although it received a good amount of praise, the praise was more for its message than the song itself. Parts of “White Privilege II” are interesting, but the majority is Macklemore rambling about his deep internal guilt with the same old flow and idioms. We do not need another white voice telling us what we already know. This track paints Macklemore as somebody that has been pressured into joining a movement that he doesn’t quite believe in, because he feels obligated. These songs all seem genuine, however there is no urgency about them, or anything to make them exciting.
His attempts at fun bangers do not go over any better. The lyrics on tracks like “Dance off” and “Brad Pitt’s Cousin” are so terrible that it’s crazy that they made it on any major label release. “I woke up, threw some sweat pants on/Then I fed my cat and then I walked to the mini mart/And I really want a donut, shouldn’t get a donut/Bought a donut, fuck it man it’s really hard” is an actual lyric on the song “Let’s Eat.” What’s most depressing about all of these tracks is that the beats are amazing. Ryan Lewis can clearly produce, but his beats are being used for such goofy purposes that it is hard to appreciate his talent on its own.
The one thing that Macklemore does do incredibly well is take risks. It’s admirable that he has the courage to rap about mopeds, snacking, his struggles with addiction and race issues, on a single project. He uses his platform to talk about issues that are rarely heard on hip-hop projects, no matter how laughable some of these subjects may seem. This makes it especially unfortunate that he couldn’t do it in a way that would resonate with an audience.
Despite its overall disappointment, there are fleeting moments on the album, specifically on “Bolo Tie” with YG, and the Chance the Rapper assisted “Need to Know” that show a great side of each of the artists involved. Aside from these two tracks however, This Unruly Mess I’ve made is an album full of watered down versions of “Same Love” and “Thrift Shop” that do not come close to living up to the originals.
(Photo: Wiki Commons)