Macklemore & Ryan Lewis THIS UNRULY MESS I’VE MADE
There are plenty reasons — fair or not — that people dislike Macklemore.
His latest album alongside Ryan Lewis, “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made,” makes one reason painfully clear: Macklemore is an insufferable, though perhaps well-intentioned, goody two-shoes.
Seemingly, he’s trying to make the world a better place. He and Lewis did it on the previous album with gay rights anthem “Same Love,” and maybe even on the save-money tune “Thrift Shop.”
On their third release, the duo is pushing against police brutality on “White Privilege II,” a nearly nine-minute production that weaves commentary on the Black Lives Matter movement with Macklemore’s personal uncertainties about his place as a white man in the mix.
The song should be applauded for its audacity in tackling a serious subject and its inventive presentation. But as you listen to “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made” in its entirety, you realize Macklemore comes off like a robot with two settings: politically correct and self-deprecating.
There’s Macklemore delivering carefully enunciated bars on an unfair music industry, of which he casts himself a conflicted beneficiary (“Light Tunnels”); Macklemore on his naughty snacking (“Let’s Eat”); and Macklemore ’fessing up to materialism. “Got some Jordans on my feet/ I went and matched ’em with my shirt” he raps on “Need to Know,” featuring Chance the Rapper.
The whole thing feels like an after-school special, with Macklemore subtly and not-so subtly drawing his audience to a wholesome conclusion. There are exceptions — including the soulful and stirring “Kevin,” in which Macklemore opens up about the overdose of someone close to him. It’s a message with gravity that needs to be heard.
But on this album, the vibrations are drowned out by one good message too many.