A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Macklemore’s “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made” Flops

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have released their newest album “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made.”  An album title has never been more appropriate.  Macklemore and Lewis can’t determine what message they want to convey to their audiences, so they feebly attempt to tell multiple narratives.  Every song seems distant from a unifying theme, and no song delves beyond the surface level if it tries to say something.

This can be expected from the duo who are known for breakout hits like “Thrift Store,” and “Can’t Hold Us.”  These songs are great for opening up parties, but lack the substance to really mean anything after that.  Which is fine; I’m sure Macklemore and Ryan Lewis know that these songs aren’t supposed to be taken seriously.  Yet, when they juxtapose “Downtown,” a song about riding a sick moped, on the same album as “White Privilege,” a track about Macklemore coming to terms with his own appropriation of black culture, neither message gets through.  The fun songs belittle the message of the songs that deal with heavy issues, and the heavy songs make the fun songs seem immature.

A great pleasure of listening to albums is how painlessly an album shifts from song to song.  Allowing the listener to take a different perspective of the same central theme of the album.  “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made” shifts like a Ford truck in disrepair: jerky and violent with a high chance of staling.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s mission to educate their pop-rap audience about social injustice is honorable but poorly executed.  The album is reminiscent of the party host who throws the greatest party ever, but calls the cops later.  Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have stepped out of their wheel house of producing pop hits.  Its best they save the politics for rallies.

No one is going to take the artist who sings “And We Danced” seriously.