This Unruly Mess I've Made Album Review - A Mess Indeed

I don't hate Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. I really don't. They're an interesting team, and while their first album "The Heist" was far from perfect, it showed that they can make good music and address important subjects. I won't lie, I was extremely upset when they beat Kendrick for that infamous grammy. I feel like the hate these guys are getting (more specifically Mack) is due to the fact that he got accepted in the mainstream with open arms, and all fans of hip hop were left standing like: "Mack's good, but you're not going to give any love to these other great rappers?" Point is, they didn't do anything to deserve the hate, so I don't really dislike them. Anyways, we finally got the new Macklemore & Ryan Lewis album and here's what I thought:

1. Light Tunnels (feat. Mike Slap)
WOW! Nice way to start the album. I've never heard a rap song like this one. It's a concept song about what it’s like to actually be at the Grammy’s event. Macklemore reveals the real atmosphere of the awards show, alongside the fake people you encounter. Now, Macklemore showed his skills with this one. He's honest and the delivery is on point. But the song has a problem Macklemore runs into too often: production. The instrumental in here is too poppy (mostly because of the drums). A pop beat is not necessary a bad thing;but when Mack is talking about fear and schizophrenia, it gives a mixed message. I wanted more dramatic production. It does gets better towards the end, with some trumpets and piano keys. So while I love the concept and most of the delivery, production will keep me from playing this song more than a couple of times. The song is not bad, though. But it could have been better.

2. Downtown (feat. Eric Nally, Grandmaster Caz, Kool Moe Dee, Melle Mel)
This song is all over the place. Weird. With the intro, it seems like Macklemore wants to show us that he's not a pop pony. However, this song is essentially a Thrift Shop remake with an Uptown Funk vibe. Now, not everything is bad. For example: the production. Yes, it's super poppy. But unlike the intro, this song is supposed to be a pop/rap single. So the simple, but fun beat didn't upset me. And Macklemore actually sounds good spitting the verses. However, the song just feels like a Thrift Shop replica. Except it's not as good. We've heard it before, so it's not that exciting anymore. And I didn't like the hook. At all. It feels like it belongs in another song. This one feels like they copied and pasted segments from different songs into an unruly mess

3. Brad Pitt's Cousin (Xperience)
Man...I'm getting upset here. Every song has elements I really enjoy and elements that kinda turn me off. This one is not the exception. Let's start with the positive: the sample is fire. With another producer, this could have been one of the dirtiest beats of the year. But Ryan Lewis didn't satisfy me here. When the beat drop was coming I was expecting a lout bassline and some fancy drums. But he decided to go with some soft piano keys. Let's talk about the rapping;Macklemore was spitting his ass off. Flow-wise, he snapped. Content was...something. Look, he clearly wants to have fun with funny lines. And while some of them hit, a lot of them felt outdated. The song has "Deez Nuts" jokes, and a text conversation with God. Okay?

4. Buckshot (feat. DJ Premier & KRS-ONE)
THIS IS DOPE! Finally a song I'm fully down with. With this one, Macklemore brings his old style to tell us about his days before the fame. Specifically, he talks about his passion for graffiti. The best is nasty! The sample is super grimy, and the piano+bass combo was fresh. KRS-ONE brought a really fun verse. He has that flow/voice I love in rappers. Really liked this one.

5. Growing Up (feat Ed Sheeran)
Sweet song. Not many rappers talk about parenthood. I can appreciate Macklemore for being the one who does. In this one, Mack talks to his unborn child, addressing his excitement, his fears and his hopes. His lyrics are relatable and honest. The beat is pretty simple, but effective. For the most part, it's mostly composed of some drums and a nice bassline. Later in the song, you get some nice horns. Let's talk about Ed Sheeran. What a voice. I'm not sure I could listen to his entire album without getting sleepy, but I love his features. He delivers a laid-back, catchy hook. This is one of those "commercial" songs I'm not embarrassed to love.

6. Kevin (feat. Leon Bridges)
Let's get the only negative I have out of the way. There's this weird noise in the sample of the beat that's sounds like it belongs in a cypher. It felt out of place. Now, this song is great! Macklemore talks about Kevin, a friend who overdosed in 2010. He talks about the memories, the pain, and the way America and doctors are basically killing people. Instrumental is pure and strong. The bass, piano and choir were all soulful. And talking about soulful, Leon Bridges did an amazing job. His vocals were breathtaking. Moving tribute.

7. St. Ides
Now, this song is good. No doubt about it. Macklemore opens up and talks about family and the non-commercial greatness of life. The beat is actually good. The atmosphere and vibes are on point. However, the song itself has a major problem. Sonically, it feels like I've heard this song before. In this album. Not sure if it's because of the instruments or his flow. But it feels like I've heard this song 2 or 3 times already. It's not the song's fault, though. It's the album's.

8. Need To Know (feat. Chance The Rapper)
Really like this record. The apologetic piano chords are heaven made. And the horns that show up in the hook had me dying. Macklemore spit a good verse, talking about the drug use in America. However, Chance completely stole the show. Might be the best verse in the album. He talks about his daughter, and how he's slowly growing up intro the man he knew he could be. The tone and atmosphere of the song are insane.

9. Dance Off (Idris Elba & Anderson .Paak)
This song is going to get so big in a couple of months. It's not too bad. I love the production. Loud, and clearly house/EDM inspired. Now, Idris Elba was the star of the song. His delivery in the hook pretty much made the song. Not sure why this wasn't the first single. Macklemore raps about his desire to dance battle somebody, detailing the moves he'll use and such. It's not too good. At certain parts, he comes off as corny. I get that he wanted to have fun and spit something funny, but his flow didn't match the production at all. Also, Anderson .Paak was wasted in here! He shows up for literally 15 seconds. Decent commercial song;not for me.

10. Let's Eat (Xperience)
I would describe this song as enjoyable filler. I can't hate it because of the instrumental. I absolutely love piano in rap songs. And the piano melody in here is fantastic. The content of the song is pretty corny. Macklemore talks about his love of fried food and his hate of dieting and the gym. While I like the melody he uses to deliver the lines, the lines themselves are cringe worthy. But the corniest thing in the song is the hook. I couldn't believe a hook could be that corny. Like I said, filler.

11. Bolo Tie (feat. YG)
There's nothing too special about this one, but it's super solid. It shows that Macklemore is a versatile artist. The instrumental is laid-back and introspective. The atmosphere is dark and almost depressive. Macklemore does his thing, talking about how people have been doubting him ever since he was a kid. Now, he's the man. YG shows up with a fitting verse, using his charisma and flow to talk about how media ruins lives.

12. The Train (feat. Carla Morrison)
This song is quire nice. Every single element is full of raw emotion. The elegant, sad piano production. The beautiful hook by Carla Morrison (sung in Spanish). And Macklemore's melodic delivery. He talks about how disconnected he is from his family. All the fame has made it harder to keep in touch with his loved ones. Powerful song.

13. White Privilege 2
A lot of people have questioned Macklemore's intention with this one. Is he being honest or does he just want to be accepted? I don't really care. This is a song that had to be made. Macklemore has the platform to do it, and he decided to do it. I can't thank him enough for that fact alone. The song itself is raw, surprising and full of truth. This song analyzes a variety of racial issues from various perspectives, relying on references to the contemporary political climate. He talks about Ferguson, Mike Brown, the 'Black Lives Matter' movement. Important way to end the album.

Verdict: This Unruly Mess I've Made is a decent album. At times it's raw, at times it's corny. But at the end of the day, Macklemore steps out of his comfort zone at crucial points of the album. The real problem is that it's all over the place. You simply can't have the two audiences (Rap and Pop) at the same time. Attempting to do so will result in a messy album without cohesion. That's exactly what happened here.

Favorite Tracks
- White Privilege 2
- Need To Know
- Buckshot
- Growing Up

Least Favorite Tracks
- Let's Eat
- Downtown
- Brad Pitt's Cousin

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