Macklemore drops one of his defining elements on his first solo record in years, Gemini.Read More
All things considered, hip-hop is the last thing you'd expect out of Australia. The country's pop and progressive rock scenes boom, but you never really hear many rappers coming out of there. Drapht shows us Americans not only that hip-hop isn't something exclusive to us, but that others can thrive in it.
Already on his third album, Drapht has slowly been carving his way into Australia's mainstream. His success is rightfully claimed; his new record is something you don't hear often in hip-hop. Seven Mirrors is an audacious record in all of the right ways. The lyricism of Kendrick Lamar meets the fun instrumentals of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. How can you not dig this sound?
If you're skeptic, just listen to the first full track on the record, 'All Love': It has confidence, style, and lots of love. His vocal delivery doesn't try and be gimmicky or something he wishes it could be (in American terms, he's not trying to sing like a pop star). The instrumental is simply fun with blaring trumpets throughout and twinkling pianos in other parts. There's several tracks where you can tell the purpose of them is to have some fun. 'Bad' featuring Nat Dunn is an example of this; it's a fun track, and you can tell that's what he was going for. Dunn delivers some fiery vocals on this track, too.
This album isn't afraid to show some character. It's a very diverse record in terms of the different styles Drapht blends into his music. 'Another Juliet' sounds like he's channeling his inner Lin-Manuel Miranda. Hilltop Hoods help add some funk and personality to 'Don Quixote'. Earlier on the record is Katie Noonan adding crooning and smooth vocals to the dramatic and somber 'Raindrops', as well. 'Asylum' has some blues rock vibes going on it, sounding more like a subtle acoustic track by the time it ends. The last song on the record is the brilliant 'Odds' with Brendan Welch - a song about battling cancer. It's a truly heartwrenching track and perfectly executed in its performance.
There are some lesser moments on the record, sadly. All of the interludes are just unnecessary; the opening one just seems cocky, 'Scumday' just makes you feel bad, 'Again' is sweet but forgettable, and 'Midnight At The Hospice' seems too dark and odd considering how the next track goes, in a completely different mood. There are some tracks that are a little too left field, too. 'Oikophobia' is the fear of feeling at home; and titling it your song seems too extreme. You get the message, but it's almost overdoing it.
Listening to Drapht really gives you an idea of how different hip-hop can be construed across the globe. This is true for all genres, really. But Drapht is a shining example of how being yourself can lead you to real success. Seven Mirrors is a fun and diverse album full of life - hip-hop today is so sex and money oriented in America, and the aesthetic of it is slowly becoming overdone. It's refreshing to hear hip-hop in this form. It's not every day you hear something old sound so new.
Favorite Tracks: All Love, Odds, Another Juliet
Least Favorite Tracks: Scumday, Mexico, Again
Rating: 77 / 100
2016 is off to an extremely strong start. Here’s just a list of all of the new albums I’ve listened to from January to March and links to reviews, if applicable.
Doing it a bit different this time, doing it by rating, from greatest to worst. Alphabetical just seemed trivial.
5-Star Albums (8.5 - 10)
- AURORA - All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend: 10
- Panic! At The Disco - Death Of A Bachelor: 9.5
- Deftones - Gore: 9.5
- Dream Theater - The Astonishing: 9
- Foxes - All I Need: 9
- Daughter - Not To Disappear: 9
- Lacey Sturm - Life Screams: 8.5
- HÆLOS - Full Circle: 8.5
- Weezer - Weezer (White Album): 8.5
- LIGHTS - Midnight Machines: 8.5
- The Last Shadow Puppets - Everything You've Come To Expect: 8.5
4-Star Albums (6.5 - 8)
- David Bowie - ★: 8
- BANNERS - BANNERS: 8
- Savages - Adore Life: 8
- Kanye West - The Life Of Pablo: 8
- Jack Garratt - Phase: 8
- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - This Unruly Mess I've Made: 8
- Sia - This Is Acting: 7.5
- Grizfolk - Waking Up The Giants: 7.5
- The Drones - Feelin Kinda Free: 7.5
- Yeasayer - Amen & Goodbye: 7.5
- Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered.: 7.5
- Textures - Phenotype: 7.5
- Rihanna - ANTI: 7
- Megadeth - Dystopia: 7
- Hands Like Houses - Dissonants: 7
- Miike Snow - iii: 7
- BABYMETAL - Metal Resistance: 7
- The Jezabels - Synthia: 7
- Amy Lee - Recover, Vol. 1: 7
- Steven Wilson - 4 ½: 6.5
- Chairlift - Moth: 6.5
- Porches - Pool: 6.5
- Polyphia - Renaissance: 6.5
3-Star Albums (4.5 - 6)
- ZAYN - Mind Of Mine: 6
- Mogwai - Atomic: 6
- Låpsley - Long Way Home: 6
- Baauer - Aa: 5.5
- Asking Alexandria - The Black: 5.5
- The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It: 5
- Explosions In The Sky - The Wilderness: 5
- School Of Seven Bells - SVIIB: 5
- Krallice - Hyperion: 4.5
- Future - EVOL: 4.5
- Anderson .Paak - Malibu: 4.5
- Wiz Khalifa - Khalifa: 4.5
2-Star Albums (2.5 - 4)
- Killswitch Engage - Incarnate: 4
- Cozz - Nothin Personal: 3.5
1-Star Albums (0 - 2)
- None! :D
Top Albums Of 2016 (so far)
- AURORA - All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend
- Panic! At The Disco - Death Of A Bachelor
- Deftones - Gore
- Dream Theater - The Astonishing
- Foxes - All I Need
- Daughter - Not To Disappear
- Lacey Sturm - Life Screams
- HÆLOS - Full Circle
- Weezer - Weezer (White Album)
- LIGHTS - Midnight Machines
Top Songs Of 2016 (so far)
- AURORA - 'Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) (Acoustic)'
- Panic! At The Disco - 'Emperor's New Clothes'
- Deftones - 'Hearts/Wires'
- Foxes - 'Better Love'
- Lacey Sturm - 'Rot'
- AURORA - 'Through The Eyes Of A Child'
- Deftones - 'Phantom Bride'
- Dream Theater - 'Moment Of Betrayal'
- Daughter - 'New Ways'
- Jack Garratt - 'My House Is Your Home'
The dynamic duo of Seattle rapper Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis is back with the follow up to 2012′s epic The Heist. Four years later, they’ve come back with a new, controversial effort with This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, covering topics that some artists in their position won’t tread in. The album is eclectic and different, but there are some sour moments on it, too.
The album begins with the honest ripping of the media, ‘Light Tunnels’ featuring songwriter Mike Slap. The song trashes the whole award show scene, Macklemore stating savagely, “They want talking topics, they want trending topics / They want outfits to be outlandish, they want sideways glances / Beef and problems, they want nipple slips / Cause they live for clips, this is economics.” The instrumental is classic for this project, many different levels, the first verse featuring urgent strings and opera singers on top of a thick bassline and beat before kicking into a droning beat section and finally a piano-led ending. There’s always a lot going behind the lyrics that you’d miss if you weren’t focussing on one or the other. Next comes the funky take on ‘Uptown Funk’, ‘Downtown’ with a whole slew of guests. The song has a lot of groove and is just really infectious - it’s like this album’s ‘Thrift Shop’. It’s a fun song to just groove too and is endearingly annoying (in a good way). The music video is pretty huge, too. Other great moments on the album include the heartwarming message to Macklemore’s child, ‘Growing Up (Sloane’s Song)’ with Ed Sheeran and the hard-hitting ‘Kevin’ featuring Leon Bridges that addresses overdosing and suicide.
The album’s biggest moment, and perhaps most controversial, is the closure track, the nearly 9-minute commentary of ‘White Privilege II’. The song addresses the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole, addressing both the ideas of finding equality and the struggles of being a white man in a predominantly black genre. With its impressive length, it covers a lot of subjects and has five clear sections. The first section is a contains a soulful melody behind Macklemore’s addressing how the struggle for racial equality goes both ways - it’s hard for white people to take part when they’re being “targeted”, in a sense, when trying to have a voice. The second part takes place in a bar, with a mom talking to him about how his music sends a positive message as opposed to the rest of hip-hop. Then comes a short sample bridge where different individuals speak their mind on white supremacy, one notable quote stating it pretty clearly: “I have an advantage? Why? Cause I'm white? What? No.“ Then breaks into a more dramatic section filled with a keyboard and synths that discusses the influence of white culture taking from the black culture. The final section features singer Jamila Woods, and features more interviews being sampled as it segues into the track. ‘White Privilege II’ is more of a conversation than it is a hip-hop feat, almost as if Macklemore is discussing his position with himself. It’s bound to be a reference in the whole movement for a time to come, and it’s interesting to hear a white artist address this in hip-hop.
Despite some powerful moments, a lot of this album just makes you ask... “What?” Songs like ‘Let’s Eat’ and ‘Brad Pitt’s Cousin’ are just so left-field, it’s hard to find endearing. The track ‘Bolo Tie’ is the closest this project has ever gotten to the stereotypical rap scene and fails to include that Macklemore touch. ‘Dance Off’ features Anderson .Paak and Idris Elba, and, while incredibly strange, does have some appeal. There is such a big divide between the songs with powerful meanings and the less serious songs, it feels like the duo couldn’t decide how to formulate the album. The album has good intentions, but doesn’t fall up all the way through.
This Unruly Mess I’ve Made may not be as cohesive an effort as The Heist, but it is an enjoyable listen. There are some incredible moments on it, but also some very strange ones, as well. It’s made it’s mark, though. That’s the important thing.
Favorite Tracks: White Privilege II, Downtown, Growing Up, Light Tunnels
Least Favorite Tracks: Bolo Tie, Let’s Eat, Buckshot