Artist of the Month, Eisley, has put up a collection of songs on Noisetrade in advance of their upcoming release of Currents later this month. Obviously, after the success of that twitter campaign has had on Hanson, I’m feeling pretty good about batting 1.000.
@ryanbrymer There’s few bands we’d love to feature more than @eisley / Huge fans. Didn’t know they had a new record coming.
From this point on, dwebb became a vocal evangelist for all thing Macklemore. Now, he and I have never been the most kindred spirits in our musical tastes – I’ve never been a big fan of Indigo Girls or Wilco – but I have so much respect for him as an artist and his fervor has been so great that I have continued to come back to the record multiple times, hoping to connect with it. There are elements that I love, but there are some things that I’m still out on.
If you ask me, this is the Ryan Lewis record. The beats are sweet, the instrumentation is on point. To develop that from scratch without building upon countless Motown samples is a very big deal. Throughout the record, the melodies are engaging and fresh while remaining relevant and familiar.
I love that this isn’t the typical “Greatest In the World” rap record. I love that he’s talking about his own real life and it’s not all Bentleys and Bling. I think that “White Walls” is the biggest misstep because it tends to go the stereotypical route and the lyrical content from SchoolboyQ definitely perpetuates this. Say what you want about the message of “Same Love”, the honesty is to be lauded and the melodies are tight.
I really like Macklemore’s delivery and phrasing. He does some great syncopated rhythms as heard on “Can’t Hold Us”. He puts on a great Eminem impersonation on “Jimmy Iovine” (personal favorite on the record). But for the most part, it’s all original and all him.
This is where the good gives way to the bad. This album (while not built on samples) is propelled forward by its killer hooks – “I’m gonna pop some tags, only got $20 in my paw-ket”, “So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us”, “I can’t change, even if I tried, even if I wanted to”. Every guest vocalist has a strong voice and delivers with such passion, it’s hard to say which one is the best (though I’m particularly glad to see Allen Stone guesting here). My problem with that is that the artist is giving away all his hooks. Certainly Beyonce and Rhianna have provided countless hooks for hit rap records, but Hov and Yeezy have delivered plenty of their own. There’s not a single standout hook delivered by Mack on this record – that I’ve noticed.
What’s the big deal? It kind of makes Macklemore expendable. The *pop* of the record lies with the guests and the production. What if Ryan Lewis had taken his beats and vocalists to another rapper? It wouldn’t have turned out the same, but the “hit potential” would still be there. Certainly, Mack’s authenticity and passion make it more likable and honest but to the average joe listener, his portion may be the least compelling piece of the pie.
I gauge every artist on whether or not I connect with the voice. It’s why I love some music with really tepid lyrics and I don’t get behind some of the stuff that’s considered the pinnacle of artistry (say, Bob Dylan). I just don’t connect with Macklemore’s voice. While his delivery is great, to me, his voice seems strained or forced. That’s not to say that his persona is forced or anything like that. But from word one on “Ten Thousand Hours”, it just seems like he’s having to push to get the words out the way he wants them to. It’s hard for me to relax and receive what he’s throwing down because his voice keeps me on edge. Maybe that’s the point, but I don’t enjoy music like that. [This may be the same reason that I'm out on Nas.]
In short, I love the guy, I love the story. Some music is enjoyable and good, other music just clicks with you on a different level. I kind of wish that I could go deeper with this one. It has certainly grown on me, but I would say that I probably won’t still be listening to it 10 years from now. It’s a work of art for the artist, but not a masterpiece of the genre.