Every so often you come across something special; something that reminds you of your first love: Hip Hop. I just recently came across an album that reminded me of why I love Hip Hop and the reasons why I love this outstanding artistry.
The album was: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made.” At my first couple of listens I knew that this album was a great follow up to the extremely popular “The Heist” (Which was an amazing album in its own right).
As what was so evident in “The Heist”, “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made” continued a retrospection that only these two Seattle hit-makers can do. A retrospection that allows the audience to follow the mental journeys of Macklemore though his well crafted lyrics and Ryan Lewis’ mood setting melodies and production.
Now, you can’t talk about a Hip Hop album without talking about the production. As you may have come to expect from a Macklemore and Ryan Lewis album, there are so many sounds that are reminisces of the past as well as sounds of the future. Listening to the various tracks that were created and used for this project, you get a sense that Ryan Lewis a fan of various types of music which inspires his own sounds and methods of production on an album. Every single beat that was created for this album was molded perfectly to the tone of the song, which impacted the entire mood of the album.
Songs like “Buckshot” (Featuring KRS-One and DJ Premier) had a great hint of old school Hip Hop that you would hear in the early years of the musical genre. The song was fun loving and an easy listen to a true Hip Hop fan. I especially loved the use of the classic record scratching that we rarely hear in the genre anymore.
Now, I don’t want to overlook the production of the album because production is so crucial to a successful album. The beats that are used set the mood for the song and the album. If the beat gets people dancing, then the audience will further enjoy the lyrics to the song. If the instrumental allows the listener to become retrospective, then they will be lead to a place of self discovery. When it comes to “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made” the work that Ryan Lewis and the rest of the team put in shows and it all fits so well. When the audience is asked to party and have fun, the music leads them through the process. With the deep thinking songs, the instrumentals perfectly complemented the words of the songs, setting the tone for the entire album.
As Macklemore has already proven that he a very lyrical emcee who is not afraid to discuss inspective topics as well as topics that should get people talking. I truly believe that Macklemore is a deep thinker and that shines through on the lyrics of this album. One of the examples of Macklemore’s lyrical gifting is “Growing up” which is a song that he and Ryan Lewis did with the help of Ed Sheeran. The song is a soft sounding dedication to Macklemore’s children and his desire to raise them properly.
“I’ll be patient, one more month
You'll wrap your fingers 'round my thumb
Times are changing, I know, but who am I if
I'm the person you become
If I'm still growing up, up, up, up
If I'm still growing up, up, up, up
I'm still growing up”
The hook of “Growing up” is a great example of the questions that may go through a new father’s mind. It follow the thought process that parents are still human’s that are growing and learning as they get older. Evidently when you become a parent, you realize that the person that you are acting as is the person that your child is going to soon become. Macklemore thinks that through a step further by asking: Who am I if I’m the person you become if I’m still growing up?
Along with Macklemore’s ability and willingness to dig deep into his mind and look into topics of heavy discussion, he has also shown that he is very creative as well as humorous with his lyrics. With songs like “Downtown ” (Featuring Melle Mel, Grandmaster Cas, Kool Moe Dee and Eric Nally) where he explains his desire to buy a moped and ride through downtown causing chaos and turning heads. The song has an old school Hip Hop sound of horns and group chants. It’s a fun song to listen to while walking or driving through the city streets.
As one journeys through Macklemore’s in depth tales, the intent listener will be faced with a plethora of challenging questions and concepts that should not only be asked, but conversed about with a variety of people from numerous backgrounds. Topics such as the seemingly unlawful treatment of patients and the abuse of prescription drugs to Hollywood’s insatiable desire to glorify themselves through award shows and the fashion industry. These thought provoking songs allow the audience to gather information from Macklemore’s vault of knowledge and begin a conversation that may challenge their own thoughts and opinions.
This thought provoking ability couldn’t be more evident than the closing statements of the album, “White Privilege II”. This song takes a look at current day racism in America. Throughout the song you get a sense of Macklemore’s desire to stand for something bigger than himself and his music mixed with the internal struggle of his motive. It seems that Macklemore struggles with his popularity and how that impacts generations after him as he either stands up for equality or lets it go past. This is a topic that I feel can easily get swept under the rug and many times, it does.
“You speak about equality, but do you really mean it?
Are you marching for freedom, or when it's convenient?
You want people to like you, want to be accepted
That's probably why you are out here protesting.
Don't think for a second you don't have incentive.
Is this about you, well, then what's your intention?”
This quote raises a great discussion of a person’s motive of why they get involved in any sort of politically or social injustice. I believe that we have to ask ourselves if we are getting involved only to fulfill our own intention or to make us feel a sense of holy or righteous.
As a man of faith listening to this album I am faced with a variety of heavy topics of discussion that need to be discussed by all types of people. Throughout this album I ponder on our culture’s stance on these topics and how my mind has been shaped over the years to fit a specific mold. Now, I am challenged to discuss, tackle and grow of the various topics.
Whether Macklemore is making the audience think deeply about societal subjects or making feel good funny music that gets or heading nodding, it’s clear that he and his production partner Ryan Lewis are a team that will be around for many years to come. It’s evident that they will continue to entertain the masses as well as get them thinking. As a Hip Hop fan, it is refreshing to hear an album that brings back the fun loving music that made this genre so popular along with the loaded discussions that we need to discuss.
We met when I was just a child; nine or ten, I believe. I met her through my brother, who had become close friends with her. It was in that moment that I became obsessed. It was then that I fell in love with her.
The years went by. At first I thought that we were just friends. We would spend as much time together as we could, but our time was limited. But the more I saw her, the more I cared for her, the more I loved her.
She was beautiful. Even her flaws were beautiful. Her skin was rough from experience, but smooth under my fingertips. Her hair was knotted and dirty at times, but could clean up nicely. Her language, which was usually diced up with profanity, could become eloquent and polite when needed.
When I looked into her eyes, saw what others could not. I remember many times, I heard criticism from my father and other relatives. My mother didn’t mind her company; we all spoke together often. We talked of life, love, politics and society.
“How can you stand her?” My Aunt once asked me, “She’s so rude and impolite.”
I tried to defend our relationship, but no matter how I argued, she would not accept her. “I mean, have you heard the language she uses,” she spat. I had heard this argument before from my father many times before, and continue to hear it still.
“Everybody uses that language. You hear it everywhere,” I tried to explain, but once again my arguments fell on deaf ears. Usually these debates would end without resolution. Normally I would walk away leaving it unsettled, waiting until the day when the subject was again revisited.
Even though the criticisms had been staring me in the face, the thought of leaving her never entered my mind. I knew we were meant to be.
She may have been my soul mate, but we did not spend all of our time together. There were many times when I would meet another woman, and fall in love all over again.
I spent time with each woman, gaining a new appreciation for her character and behavior, but no matter how much love these women and I shared, I always returned to my first love. The other women were sufficient when I needed a taste of something new.
When I spent time with her I was never happier. I would sit in a chair listening to her every word as she read poetry from many thinkers. I was obsessed; I listened to her vivid words over and over again, making her repeat everything. Her every word and her every story put a colorful image in my head, an image of a world that I have not experienced; a world in which I could still relate. A world of outcasts and rejects to society, who are forced to live a life they are not proud of. A life they hope to change. I heard the words she spoke and the poets whose work she read and whose lives she would wrote about. I loved every minute with her and every word I heard her utter. I had to have more of her. I would look into her eyes as I listened to her words, seeing the passion that she shared with me.
As time went by, I started to write my own poems, hoping to one day write as her great poets had written. I shared my written words with my love, hoping she would like them.
Time went by; I continued to perfect my skill. I hoped to one day take my art to its pinnacle. She and I spent hours together refining my craft. She taught me everything she knew and I was an eager student. Everything that I wrote I read to her, in attempts of gaining her approval and respect.
I introduced her to my friends, who quickly understood why I loved her. They grew fond of her as well, but the love between them never sparked like it did with her and me.
Now, years later, she and I are still very much in love. I spend the majority of my days with her, as she tells me the stories I’ve loved so much. I can express myself through her. We have both changed over the years, but have never lost our unique connection. Her name is Hip Hop. And she’s the love of my life.