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Macklemore Sophomore Album Tackles Deep Issues

After winning a Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2014, Macklemore (Ben Haggerty) and Ryan Lewis are making a return with “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made,” which was released on Feb. 26.

The album is currently number one on iTunes and rising in popularity.

While, as a whole, it isn’t the best, there are some songs on the album worth listening to.

Macklemore and Lewis have always made a good effort at discussing some serious topics with songs and this album is no exception.

“Downtown” was the first major single off this album. It was similar to their song “Thrift Shop” on their first album.

Both songs are cheesy, but they’re catchy and end up being overplayed on all the radio stations.

The album opens with “Light Tunnels” which basically calls out the whole industry, including name-dropping.

“They want the gossip, they want the drama. They want Britney Spears to make out with Madonna. They want Kanye to rant and go on longer, because that equates to more dollars.”

Macklemore mentions how uncomfortable he felt at the Grammy’s. He raps about how he wasn’t sure what to say or how to react when they called his name.

It’s refreshing to hear a celebrity talk about the insecurities of being famous and mocking the industry.

“Growing Up,” which features Ed Sheeran, is a sweet emotional letter dedicated to his newborn daughter. The listener hears strong emotion and fear of being a father in his voice.

He makes multiple promises to be the best father he can be. It’s a touching melody.

After he found out his wife was pregnant, Macklemore decided to get sober, which led to the song. He credits most of the album to him getting sober.

According to “People Magazine,” he said this album wouldn’t have been possible if he hadn’t gotten sober.

Macklemore addressed America’s prescription drug problem with “Kevin,” featuring Leon Bridges. His friend Kevin overdosed at 21.

“First dealer was his mom’s medicine cabinet. Got anxiety, better go and give him a Xanax, focus give him Adderall, sleep give him Ambien. So America, is it worth it?”

This is one of my personal favorites on the album because many artists don’t address issues like this. It’s an important topic that Macklemore believes strongly in.

Probably the most powerful song on the album, “White Privilege II,” ends the sophomore album on a very bold note.

According to a Billboard interview, Macklemore and Lewis attended a college seminar on race before producing the album.

Macklemore mentions in several interviews that when the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum, he felt like it was not his place to speak up, so he stayed silent.

In an interview with “People Magazine,” he admitted to be scared of saying the wrong thing about racism and that’s why he stayed silent.

He acknowledges this in the eight minute send-off with lyrics like “It seems like we’re more concerned with being called racist, than we actually are with racism” and “I’ve heard that silences are action, and God knows that I’ve been passive. “

He prompts Americans to answer the question, “We want to dress like, walk like, talk like, dance like, yet we just stand by – We take all we want from black culture, but will we show up for black lives?”

Although this may have been one of the hardest songs to write for the album, Macklemore presents an honest approach to a topic that many are avoiding right now.

That honesty allows him to reveal these underlying issues of cultural divide in America, and wraps up the album in all of its uniqueness and diversity.

I understand that Macklemore may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I encourage listeners to not focus on silly songs like, “Thrift Shop” or “Downtown” and gravitate to the deeper songs including “Kevin” and “Growing Up.”

“This Unruly Mess I’ve Made,” is available on iTunes for $11.99 or for streaming on Spotify.

image via www.npr.org 

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