This Unruly Mess I’ve Made by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
These guys really know what they’re doing. They’re insanely popular, and they’ve built it all up themselves. But if you listen to the music created by lyricist / rapper Macklemore and his music-producing cohort Ryan Lewis, it becomes clear they’re just fumbling through it all like everybody else. The brutal honesty of Macklemore’s lyrics on this new record, the duo’s second full-length collaboration, step well beyond the refreshingly lucid lyrics of their debut, The Heist.
Next to chart-topping songs like “Downtown,” (which is insanely raunchy — when was the last time you heard a song with the word “scrotum” in it?), and “Dance Off” (which video is shown above, featuring none other than Idris “‘Stringer’ Bell” Elba), Mack sings about the inner turmoil of being an imposter for his success, of being white and finding it difficult to fight for #blacklivesmatter, of being a dead-beat father who’s never around. The album’s truths are at once arresting and refreshing.
But then it comes to the global acceptance of them. Nothing brings out my own insecurity about being a white American male more than listening to Macklemore do his thing. I feel guilty listening to him with my son, especially when we get to the song “White Privilege II” and the spoken-word passage of the mom clearly talking to Macklemore and saying
“You’re the only hip-hop that I let my kids listen to
’Cause you get it, all that negative stuff it isn’t cool”
Because it causes my son to ask questions, questions that are hard for me to answer, that make me uneasy in my “whiteness.” And while it’s not true that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis is the only hip-hop I let my son listen to, all of his points hit a nerve (as it’s supposed to).
And that’s where Mack’s lyrics shine — in that moment where you stop, and you think, and you examine your own world and decide “am I doing everything I can in this fucked up world of ours?” and realize you most certainly are not, and you start to edge yourself towards being that ultimately unattainable “better person.” And you keep on trying, thanks in small part to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
23. LNZNDRF by LNZNDRF
24. Puberty 2 by Mitski
25. Light Upon the Lake by Whitney
26. A Corpse Wired for Sound by Merchandise
27. Away by Okkervil River
28. case/lang/veirs by case/lang/veirs
29. Love Letter for Fire by Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop
30. Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future by Underworld
31. Preoccupations by Preoccupations