I’m not too sure how this album just snuck up on us nor am I quite sure why it’s receiving quite a negative media approach but Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have finally dropped their sophomore studio album. “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made” is an intriguing follow up to their 2012 debut “The Heist” which sees them delivering empowering messages, silly and fun raps and orchestral productions. Opening with “Light Tunnels” he narrates attending an award show where he feels out of place, discusses the value of fame and then wins the award and gives us a humorous insight to the thoughts inside his head. It’s this giant, epic introduction to the album that perfectly lets the listener know that this record will be about reflection and still has the same wit and warmth his debut embodied. Macklemore has always liked to make a statement with his music and this album is no different. “Kevin” is a touching track that looks at how he lost a friend to a prescription drug addiction but the only thing that de-climaxes the impact is Leon Bridges hook which seems a bit too “try-hard” preachy. “St Ives.” reflects on his alcoholic days and struggling with how his hometown Seattle is changing. The production on this track is very simple and perfectly allows him to connect with the listener with no hidden theatrics. “Growing Up” follows that trend and has him rapping about becoming a father and not knowing if he is ready to take on that role yet. It’s a powerful message of self-acceptance that a lot of soon-to-be parents struggle with. My only criticism with this song is that Ed Sheeran’s hook sounds like every song he has ever recorded.
The most controversial track on album comes from “White Privilege II” where he addresses the issue of Black Lives. It’s a topic that everyone has their individual opinion on and Macklemore has decided to make his public. This has divided people and is also a reason why this album is being boycotted from media which I personally think is a tad OTT. Hip Hop has always been a genre to express opinions so why are we surprised he has dropped his? The rest of the album is compiled of fun and ridiculous raps which will have you bouncing in your car to “Brad Pitt’s Cousin” or “Downtown” while vibing to “Buckshot”. The dancehall inspired “Dance Off” is a hopeful single which deserves to be sitting at the top of the charts. With the “Thriller”-esque opening and horror themed breakdowns it’s a no brainer. However one of my favourite tracks on the album comes from the hilarious “Let’s Eat” which commentates his love for food, the social push of joining a gym and being happy with who you are and what you eat. “I was gonna get skinny for the summer, I was gonna start doing my crunches. But looking down at my stomach Imma go to the beach, but I’m not taking my shirt off. My girl shaped like a bottle of Coke, me? I’m shaped like a bottle of nope I’d like to order a hot dog, some bon bons, a large soda, and some tacos to go. I never knew what a carbohydrate was, turns out that it’s all the snacks I love”.
So whatever you’re personal opinions may be about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis you need to put that aside and listen to this album. It’s a tad cheesy but the production is on point with beautiful orchestral arrangements and hard hip-hop synth beats that pull this record together. It’s a strong follow up to a brilliant debut album that was always going to be hard to top. However I personally think he did so. I found this album incredibly enjoyable to listen to from start to finish with empowering thoughts and fun breakdowns and just good raps.