Macklemore and Ryan Lewis: “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made”

Jesse Slade ‘19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Amanda Smith/Rolling Stone
Photo Credit: Amanda Smith/Rolling Stone

This past Friday, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis unveiled their latest release titled This Unruly Mess I’ve Made. With its lead single “Downtown” having only moderate success, there wasn’t much hype or discussion surrounding their latest LP. Coming off of a major success with 2012’s The Heist, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis had big shoes to fill on this album, but did they fill them? With a variety of sounds and subject matters, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis strive for something different this time around.

TOP PICK FOR SINGLE: “Brad Pitt’s Cousin (feat. XP)”

“Brad Pitt’s Cousin” has a contagious, funny, hook that everyone is going to want to sing. Macklemore raps “See me in the club, Brad Pitt, that’s my cousin”, and calls himself Brad Pitt’s ugly cousin. This song follows the carefree fun attitude of “Thrift Shop” that made the song such a success. With an infectious piano, Macklemore raps about what most people love to hear: nothing, and it’s wildly entertaining.

MOST RIDICULOUS SONG: “Let’s Eat (feat. XP)”

The title pretty much says it all. In “Let’s Eat,” Macklemore raps about something a lot of people have trouble with, healthy eating and exercise. The song is about being content with eating poorly, and the constant attempt to break that cycle but the lack of success that often occurs. The hook isn’t one that really catches an audience. It’s funny but isn’t one to sing in the car. “You know I feel good about this plate, you know I feel good about this steak.” While I’m sure this will be someone’s new cooking anthem, it’s still pretty ridiculous.

MOST EMOTIONAL SONG: “Kevin (feat. Leon Bridges) ”

There is a really visible contrast on This Unruly Mess I’ve Made between songs that are personal and meaningful, and songs that are lively and empty. “Kevin” is one of Macklemore’s most personal songs to date. He raps about the widespread issue of addiction, and more specifically the death of his little brother due to addiction. “Look at Kevin, look at Kevin/Now he’s wrapped in plastic/First dealer was his mom’s medicine cabinet.” With a funk-infused beat, Macklemore beautifully speaks on an issue directly related to him as well as many others.

BEST DANCE TRACK: “Dance Off (feat. Idris Elba & Anderson Paak) ”

In this weird hype track with a “Thriller”-like opening, Ryan Lewis uses heavy bass production and Idris Elba to his advantage in an attempt to make you dance. The chorus yells “get on the floor/get on the get on the floor” with a blaring bass that you better move to. Unlike Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ usual formula, the chorus relies on a beat rather than a hook. If this was playing at a club you’d have no choice but to listen to the lyrics and get on the floor.

BEST OVERALL SONG: “Need to Know (feat. Chance the Rapper)”

“Need to Know” is the best overall song because it’s a combination of two things that are often separated. It’s a song with a message, but you can also vibe with it and sing it in the shower, car, or whatever setting you most prefer. It’s not trying too hard at anything. The beat is relaxed, but it’s just right for Macklemore and Chance to do their thing. It sounds more like a traditional Chance the Rapper song than a Macklemore song which is effective. It uses a piano reminiscent of “Sunday Candy” mixed with Macklemore’s traditional use of horns and it suits both of them well.


This is the one song on This Unruly Mess I’ve Made that doesn’t have a feature, and unfortunately, it’s the most forgettable track on the album. This is slightly concerning because Macklemore has never had a successful song without a feature. Can he even carry a song himself? This song would prove he can’t. The song is personal to Macklemore—it’s about his struggles, but the production is sleepy. The drum and guitar are consistent throughout the song and never pick up. No new instruments come in, and halfway through the song, you’re left bored. The music isn’t engaging, and Macklemore raps in a whisper that doesn’t help with the track’s lack of excitement.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis succeed at creating something unlike their other work. Some of it is really good, some of it…isn’t.


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