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Album review: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ ‘This Unruly Mess I’ve Made’

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Mike Pizzo

Three stars

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis This Unruly Mess I've Made

Following the unexpected success of 2012 debut The Heist, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis return with their second album together, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made. Here again, Mack’s brand of classic hip-hop-inspired pop rap toes the line between humorous (cuts like “Dance Off”) and heavy handed (“St. Ides,” which explores alcoholism), and does both well. His apologetic persona manifests on opening cut “Light Tunnels” and on the controversial “White Privilege II,” proving he’s still willing to address uncomfortable topics. Musically, however, “White Privilege II” and preceding single “Downtown” both wander all over the place, and that sense of overreach pervades the album as a whole. One minute, we get a safe, adult-contemporary, crossover cut featuring Ed Sheeran (“Growing Up”), the next Mack’s spray-painting boom bap with KRS-One & DJ Premier on “Buckshot.” Fortunately, Mack is an able poet, who transcends the aptly titled Unruly Mess to keep you hanging on his words.

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