"This Unruly Mess I've Made," the newest album by hip-hop artists Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, hit the scene Friday. Most of us know this duo from their hit song "Thrift Shop," but this album may change perspectives on the artistic purpose of this pair.
The rap lyrics in many of this album's songs reveal harsh, often painful realities faced by these two in their careers and lives, such as losing loved ones or gaining fame while the rest of the world suffers. These realities are often posed philosophically, asking the listener to contemplate the issues addressed by the artists' transparent lyrics.
"Kevin" is a sad song, mourning Macklemore's friend's death from drug overdose. He addresses a doctor directly, even pleading, "put down the pen and look in my eyes."
"Light Tunnels" dramatically exposes Macklemore's displeasure with how popularity and fame are cultivated by the persona an artist puts on for an audience. He even raps that the economics of the famous involves "insecurity dressed up as confidence."
"White Privilege II" is a clear expose, even containing influences of African-American soul music and sound bites from Black Lives Matter demonstrations. This song critiques whether white citizens actually intend to make a change in society by rejecting racism and if they actually mean what they say. One striking lyric asks "we'll take all we want from black culture, but will we show up for black lives?"
"The Train" again reveals Macklemore's strained connections with his love ones. His lyrics explain his feelings of riding away from his family, waving from a train window.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum lie songs such as "Dance Off," a free-form dance jam, and "Downtown," a pre-released celebratory single of a night of partying, shopping and, oddly enough, mopeds.
Humorously depicting his struggle of wanting to get fit but wanting food more, Macklemore raps about "not tripping about [his] weight," giving a lighter, comedic relief to the album in "Let's Eat."
The track "Brad Pitt's Cousin" falls more on the party side of the spectrum, humorously depicting the life of famous artists, but also perhaps mocking the overdone esteem given to famed personas like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. "Buckshot" is another cocky song of pure swag in which the artists brag about doing what they want simply because they can.
"Need To Know" is another negative illustration of being a famous artist, depicting how others can't or won't know the truth about them, but only what they "need to hear." "Bolo Tie" reveals other struggles of how Macklemore battles to be himself while having to defend himself and his title from critics who tell him to "make better music."
Comments about God appear often in Macklemore and Ryan Lewis lyrics. Harsh, pessimistic views toward God come out through songs such as "Kevin" and "St. Ides." A lyric in "St. Ides" states, "I never believed in God but things got so f----- up I had to pray." These songs sadly depict a lost path in life and lack of hope because of life's tribulations. Such lyrics are surprisingly real and honest, uncommon with most pop songs and refreshingly transparent.
Although randomly mixed with party pop songs, overall "This Unruly Mess I've Made" truly depicts the honest laments, emotions and societal conflicts of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. This album is valuable to society and begs contemplation of societal reforms at best and sympathy for the struggles of these artists at a minimum.