Review #174: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Unruly Mess I’ve Made

Artist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Album – The Unruly Mess I’ve Made (2016)

Check it out – https://open.spotify.com/album/2kqn09pydzvKvB3xWbAxY4

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Macklemore & Ryan lewis are a hip-hop duo from Washington, USA. Macklemore (Ben Haggerty), the rapper/singer, has also become the face of the duo, some unfortunately not even knowing who Ryan Lewis is. Ryan Lewis is actually the producer and DJ behind the group … so without him there would be no music for Macklemore to rap over. The duo released their first E.P in 2009 ‘VS. EP’ and their second ‘VS. REDUX’ in 2010. ‘The Heist’ (their first album) saw Macklemore & Ryan Lewis shot to fame, gaining them numerous Grammy awards including ‘Best Rap Album’. This is the duo’s sophomore effort ‘This Unruly Mess I’ve Made’.

What first interested me in the duos latest release was their eclectic and strong guest line-up, which includes; actor – Idris Elba, Hip-Hop legends – Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Melle Mel and KRS-One, pop superstar – Ed Sheeran, Electronic pioneer – Dj Premier and strong up and comers – Anderson Paak and Chance The Rapper … I mean, how did they manage that!? As interesting as these features seem, some don’t hit, specifically the track ‘Dance Off’ with Paak and Elba, which goes beyond the fun cheesy tracks we expect of Macklemore and into cringeworthy territory, with some terrible lyrics and a grating hook. The other performances however are fantastic, Macklemore obviously wants us to understand his love of rap/hip-hop by delivering an authentic old-school hip-hop track in ‘Downtown’. KRS-One is brought in as the true talent to deliver a blistering verse which adds some gravitas to the album and specifically the song ‘Buckshot’. The song ‘Growing Up’ is Macklemore showing us his softer side, describing his experiences now as a dad and how he is trying to cope with the new responsibilities, including a powerfully delivered chorus by Ed Sheeran. The end of this album seems to loose it a bit, as mentioned ‘Dance Off’ isn’t too great, ‘Bolo Tie’ just seems a bit dry and boring, whilst ‘White Privilege II’ is a terrible ending track, a song which epitomises the whole celebrity hooking onto a cause just to try and seem caring, simply to boost their appeal, this cause being Black Lives Matter. Obviously the Black Lives Matter movement is important and does require exposure, but let’s be honest, this song is just about you Macklemore, it just seems a bit disingenuous.

Overall the albums is great, a few misses and still featuring the pop cheese of which I’m not fond of (does make money though), but the majority of the album features well written/delivered verses from Macklemore, some great production from Ryan Lewis and a range of fantastic guest spots.

7/10

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