Album Review: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – This Unruly Mess I’ve Made (2016)

Cookie FM Rating – 5/5

It’s been four years since hip hop & rapping duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis released their debut album, and at the end of February we were spoiled with their second studio album, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made (2016). Though I’ve not yet blogged about the twosome’s music so far, Cookie FM is a big, big fan of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis due to their lyrical content and creative music. Just like The Heist (2012), this LP is full of both powerful and tongue in cheek lyrics, relatable issues, progressive sounds & instruments and genius collaborations.

It opens with Light Tunnels (feat. Mike Slap), that narrates what it was like for Macklemore at the Grammys. The lyrical content of this track is such an insight into “celebrity lives”, and what their reality is at such award shows. Following this comes the album’s first released single,  Downtown (feat. Melle Mel, Grandmaster Caz, Kool Moe Dee & Eric Nally), which also was accompanied by a hugely successful music video. This track is epic. From its first listen I loved it – it’s spunky, it’s fun, it’s funky, it pays tribute to old school rap and even features the aforementioned legendary rappers and singer Eric Nally.

The album features a couple of tracks with funny but brilliant lyrics as well as fun vocals including Brad Pitt’s Cousin (feat. XP), Dance Off (feat. Idris Elba & Anderson .Paak) and Let’s Eat (feat. XP); the last of which is lyrically hilarious and also takes a well-deserved stab at Ben Affleck! I adore the song Growing Up (feat. Ed Sheeran), written for the rapper’s daughter, Sloane. His raps are such beautiful pieces of advice for not just his little girl, but for all children. It was released as a promo single last year, as Macklemore revealed he and wife Tricia had their baby girl, and was a beautiful collaboration with one of my favourite artists, and easily one of the best on the planet right now, Ed Sheeran. His chorus works with the song perfectly, though I was surprised that Ed didn’t play guitar nor help produce.

The duo have also penned strong tracks that are very relatable in today’s society, notably Kevin (feat. Leon Bridges) and White Privilege II (feat. Jamila Woods). The former discusses how health institutes, society & governments do not deal with mental health and those who suffer with drug problems the right way. The lyrics of this track are poignant but they hit you the way they should: by leaving an impression and a wanting to help a change for the better. The latter of the tracks mentioned deals with white people privilege and the American social movement associated with Black Lives Matter, who are an international activist movement that campaigns against violence toward black people. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis said of the track that “this song is the outcome of an ongoing dialogue with musicians, activists, and teachers within our community in Seattle and beyond. Their work and engagement was essential to the creative process.” It is also very powerful and shines a light on the problems America is having with their police force, terrorism and violence that is relatable around the world too. I also love singer Jamila Woods’ vocals on this track, she ends the album rather beautifully. 

Dear Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, I thank you for this amazing, dynamic and influential album.


Macklemore Ryan Lewis This Unholy Mess I've Made


  1. Light Tunnels (feat. Mike Slap)
  2. Downtown (feat. Melle Mel, Grandmaster Caz, Kool Moe Dee & Eric Nally)
  3. Brad Pitt’s Cousin (feat. XP)
  4. Buckshot (feat. KRS-One & DJ Premier)
  5. Growing Up (feat. Ed Sheeran)
  6. Kevin (feat. Leon Bridges)
  7. St. Ides
  8. Need to Know (feat. Chance the Rapper)
  9. Dance Off (feat. Idris Elba & Anderson .Paak)
  10. Let’s Eat (feat. XP)
  11. Bolo Tie (feat. YG)
  12. The Train (feat. Cara Morrison)
  13. White Privilege II (feat. Jamila Woods)

CLICK TO LISTEN TO This Unruly Mess I’ve Made BY Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ON TIDAL


Nirina XX

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Image © Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, LLC

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