Breaking boundaries: ‘Unruly Mess’ discusses topics others don’t

By Lauren Kalo
Times-News correspondent

“This Unruly Mess I’ve Made,” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Macklemore label, Copyright 2016, $11.99.

   Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ album, “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made,” covers a variety of topics, including drug addiction, award shows, white privilege and diets. Macklemore and Lewis succeed in tackling issues that artists usually fail to mention in their songs. In his song “Kevin,” Macklemore talks about his friend who dealt with drug addiction and later overdosed. America’s views on prescription drugs are challenged as well within the song by using lines such as “America, is it really worth it? I’m asking you.”
On the other hand, the album also mentions award shows in “Light Tunnels” which talks about the VMAs’ true image in the eyes of the artists. The standards, success and winning awards are mentioned with lyrics such as “walk in the arena, feel the ego of elites like the whole industry is staring at me.” But the album’s best song (and first single) is the ebullient, soaring “Downtown.” With a plethora of guest vocals, including a soaring turn by Eric Nally (of Foxy Shazam fame) that’s reminiscent of the pipes of a young Freddie Mercury, the tune is fun, happy, and one that you’ll roll your windows down and sing right along with.
One of the most fun things about “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made” is the retro feel of many of its songs. Macklemore and Lewis are joined by old school rap artists, including KRS-One and Kool Moe Dee (on Buckshot and Downtown, respectively). Like his last album, The Heist, which featured vocals by rising star Mary Lambert, “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made,” features established and rising stars like Ed Sheeran and Leon Bridges. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis always manage to break boundaries with their music and challenge the status quo. They’ll always be some of my favorite artists and this album is phenomenal; I can’t wait to see what they’ll release next.

Lauren Kalo is a rising senior at Western Alamance High School and a Teens & 20s writer.

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