Seattle-reared nice guy and noted white rapper Macklemore — a man who’s known for loitering in Salvation Army stores, espousing his commitment to sobriety, and encouraging America to improve its moral fabric — is releasing an album called This Unruly Mess I’ve Made.
The rapper announced this today in especially melodramatic fashion on his website, posting a governing symbol (a hand holding a match) for the record, a release date — February 26th — a cryptic message about the making of the album, and a video in which he recites the message over a dramatic opera aria.
Here’s the video, full of clips of Macklemore, Lewis and Co. making the album in the “middle of nowhere,” apparently in a cabin:
One hears this parody-of-a-Drake-album-title and wonders: what mess did the Mackle make? One imagines: “Schoolboy Q offered me some weed, and I puffed it, then I sent out an embarrassing text to an old girlfriend” or something.
The music we’ve heard of the record has been, as Macklemusic tends to be, inspirational or playful. It’s the platonic ideal of rap for a kid’s show parents can also enjoy and feel “tuned in” while watching; The Heist was, in some sense, millennial Big Willie Style, but made by a white man who no one could imagine acting.
How “unruly” could the followup to The Heist, which is now — somehow — over three years old, get? We imagine Macklemore to his wife: “One time I didn’t call you enough, because I was too caught up in the touring life.” Maybe: “I put off changing Sloane’s diaper for a full hour after I knew there was a problem, because I was watching the Mariners.”
The boy can’t help it — he’s got to think of his career as a super dramatic movie about how real his struggle is. Or perhaps as a prose poem about it: His written preview for the album, posted exclusively at macklemore.com and strictly non-cut-and-pasteable (edgy, my b!) is somewhere between a Conor Oberst lyric sheet and a page out of Jack Kerouac if he’d won four Grammys and listened to a lot of Kanye.
We don’t learn exactly what the “unruly mess” is — seems likely that it’s all in his Mackle-mind, muddled as it has been by the extensive touring he did in support of The Heist. Writer’s block, judging by the message, seems to have been a big part of the problem: “I didn’t know what I wanted to say. Didn’t know how the ink would stick to the page.”
It’s hard not to conjure the mental image of Macklemore dipping a big quill pen into the well, and then writing: “I went to the moped store, said, ‘Fuck it.’”
“Look at all the mess we made. In all its lacquered glory and its tarnished failures.”
Yeah, Grammys are lacquered, and definitely glorious. Is Macklemore still feeling guilty about taking Kendrick’s? We thought “failures” were always “tarnished,” but to be honest, we don’t know what Macklemore’s been going through, other than a serious hat shopping phase. Or as the new album’s only single to date, the #12-peaking “Downtown,” indicates, a moped phase, which is perhaps more troubling.
In short, the title This Unruly Mess I’ve Made — and his dramatic discourse — doesn’t seem commensurate with the product we will inevitably be receiving from the Mackle in a little over a month’s time. There’s no unruliness in the novelty throwback quips of “Downtown” and his sentimental, Ed Sheeran-featuring tribute to newfound fatherhood “Growing Up (Sloane’s Song).” The recently unveiled, Leon Bridges-featuring “Kevin” is edgier, but its gospel flair is still fairly inspirational. Macklemore’s music always seems to be hinting at controversy, but backing away from it at the last minute, lost in its own brain-dead pseudo-philosophy.
But, according to Macklemore’s thoughts, he went into this record with a “fuck it up’’ attitude. After all, he explains, disorder is “the very fabric of our country.” Hard to tell from the statement if he views that as a bad thing, or in general, what the fuck he’s talking about.
Emerging from a period of isolated, focused work on the album, Macklemore is ready to come back, with a record that will quickly sell over a million copies in its first few months in existence. May he Mackle more, soon.