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Macklemore Chooses Personal Over Politics On “Gemini”

*Image Source: ticketfly

On September 22nd American rapper Macklemore released his second studio album “Gemini” via Bendo LLC. It marks the rappers first album without Ryan Lewis since his 2005 debut solo effort “The Language Of My World”. Mostly known for his political views he expresses through lyric, Macklemore has taken a different approach on “Gemini” saying  “It’s not extremely politically motivated or heavily subject- or concept-oriented. I think it’s mostly the music that I wanted to hear. It’s the music that I wanted to go get into my car and listen to. I wanted it to be fun. I always try to get a different pallet of sounds and textures and vibes. This album, I was in a good place man. There’s some darker songs, for sure, but for the most part, if I’m in a happy place and life is good, that’s going to be reflected in the music.”

In a recent interview though the rapper did state why his partner in crime Ryan Lewis decided to opt out of this project “It was a decision that we both came to,” he said. “I think with the last album and how intense it was at times — particularly making ‘White Privilege II’ [on This Unruly Mess I’ve Made], that was an intense, as it should have been, song to write … I think it was really heavy to make a nine-minute song about race. And again, it should be heavy. You can’t even scrape the surface on it. I think with that and just other songs that we did, it was time to step back a little bit,” he continued. “And Ryan was the one that actually brought it up to me and I was like, ‘Yo, let’s do an EP.’ And he was like, ‘I feel like I would be the worst producer for you right now.’ I’ma give you guys the hundo version. I think that that was the best thing that he could have said because we needed that space. You need space to appreciate somebody.”

“Glorious” was the first single from the album and was released on June 15th and featured singer Skylar Grey. It charted as high as number one in New Zealand and number 2 in Australia and made the top 20 in the US and UK. The follow up single which featured rapper Lil Yatchy called “Marmalade” was released July 26th and hit number one in the US but wasn’t that favorable around the rest of the world unfortunately. In came the third single “Good Old Days” which was a collaboration with Ke$ha and was released September 19th. The song received great reviews with Billboard magazine claiming “it was a mellow yet catchy pop song, it’s the perfect record for personal reflection and self-love”.

With Macklemore going out on a limb on this new LP without Ryan Lewis we have to wonder was this a risky choice for him. In an interview with NPR.org he spoke of it saying “At first when Ryan and I decided to take our break, I had some fear. You know, Ryan and I had worked together almost 10 years every single day. And when you hit that 10-year mark, there’s definitely a trust and a second set of eyes and ears to everything that you do. So when you remove that it was like, “Whoa, this is crazy. So all these decisions are gonna be on me now?” There was a freedom in that, but it was also scary at the same time. But once I got in the mode of just recording, I was working with Budo and Tyler Dopps — who produced the majority of it — and really getting to a place of trust with them. I had to find the ability to trust the room to be my second set of ears. At the same time, there was also a liberating part of it. When you’re collaborating with someone as a duo, you have to compromise on everything. Every single thing needs to be approved by both me and Ryan, and when it’s just my solo album, it’s like, “Nope, I’m cool with that verse. Let’s run with it.” And I worked a lot quicker being able to make decisions without having to go back and forth with Ry.”

Although this album doesn’t have the controversial lyrics of the past we still get the same old Macklemore, with catchphrases, horn solos, and corny lyrics in a way that he just stepped out of a Broadway musical. With a more commercial album you won’t get the uniqueness and quirkiness the likes of “Thrift Shop” delivered us, but what you will get is more ‘hip pop’ type songs that still show off Macklemore’s incredible flow and still has a hint of mixtape quality. So will Macklemore still retain his old fans from his days with Ryan Lewis, well he shared his views on that with NPR saying “I think the audience has definitely changed and it’s constantly changing, particularly in America. Outside of America, people have a tendency to hold on to music and artists for longer. In America, there’s such a quick turnover rate of what’s popping this week or who’s the newest rapper in the last two months, that it’s tough to see who my audience is in America. In the era of “The Language of My World”, I just wanted to make music for anybody that would listen. I didn’t have a specific type of person in mind. I still don’t. If someone resonates with the art, if they feel like it hits the heartstrings or makes ’em turn up, to me, that’s a win. I want to make art for as many people possible.”

“Gemini” is basically an album by just a guy writing good-natured songs about everyday issues. It was recorded in Macklemore’s home studio, and the music feels rooted in the quirks and comforts of family life. Without Ryan Lewis to guide the ship this time only time will tell whether or not this project can be successful standing alone.

Rating : 4/5

“Gemini” tacklist

  1. Ain’t Gonna Die Tonight Feat. Eric Nally
  2. Glorious Feat. Skylar Grey
  3. Marmalade Feat. Lil Yachty
  4. Willy Wonka Feat. Offset
  5. Intentions Feat. Dan Caplen
  6. Good Old Days Feat. Kesha
  7. Levitate Feat. Otieno Terry
  8. Firebreather Feat. Reignwolf
  9. How to Play the Flute Feat. King Draino
  10. Ten Million
  11. Over It Feat. Donna Missal
  12. Zara Feat. Abir
  13. Corner Store Feat. Dave B & Travis Thompson
  14. Miracle Feat. Dan Caplen
  15. Church Feat. Xperience
  16. Excavate Feat. Saint Claire

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