A few years ago my best friend and I waited in line for 13 hours to see Macklemore & Ryan Lewis live at the Staples Center. We ended up at the front row in the pit and it turned out to be one of the best concerts we’ve ever attended together (he took my best friend’s phone and took a video of himself and he held my hand when he went into the crowd; what I’m saying is we’re best friends with Macklemore now).
Macklemore had me from the moment his song, “Wings” found its way into a random playlist and suddenly I find his music necessary. His latest release, Gemini, made for the perfect soundtrack to my chaotic weekend. Gemini is Macklemore’s first solo project after deciding to take a break from his partnership with Ryan Lewis. At first listen you can definitely find the void that Ryan Lewis left behind and though musically Gemini is a bit calmer in its direction, the Ryan Lewis void allows Macklemore’s words to lead the album in an impeccable way.
The album kicks off with “Ain’t Gonna Die” featuring Eric Nally (who was featured on Macklemore’s “Downtown” from This Unruly Mess I’ve Made) and the track immediately grabs your attention. If you’re looking for the feel-good album of 2017, then you’ve found it. Gemini gives you life anthems, story-telling, honesty, vulnerability and collaborations that created music worth listening to.
Macklemore has consistently given us intricate lyricism mixed with magical collaborations and Gemini is proof of that. There’s a special place in my heart for rappers who collaborate with strong vocalists on songs and Macklemore is a master at picking vocalists for his songs. Kesha is featured on “Good Old Days” and I was instantly reminiscing about High School and the late night adventures that were too reckless for a group of 16-18 year olds. Dan Caplen is featured on “Intentions” and “Miracle” and suddenly I’m looking up Dan Caplen so that I can consume all of his music.
Though difficult to choose my favorite track may just be “Over It” featuring Donna Missal. The story-telling, Donna’s vocals, the relatability; it makes for a wonderful listening experience. The chorus alone will slowly break your heart open:
We got that bad love, but it taste like medicine
I never had love, so I learned to settle quick
I guess I never thought I’d have to choose
Between paradise and you
If you’ve followed Macklemore’s career then you know that he’s often been at the forefront of social issues and he often includes his opinions within his music but Gemini lacks that particular narrative. If I can be completely honest; I’m kind of glad that Macklemore chose to keep those topics out of this particular album. Though extremely important, sometimes I just need to listen to music that makes a smile spread across my face and instantly puts me in a better state of mind, I find myself playing Gemini when I need a moment to breathe. This is not to say that he doesn’t hit important and life-altering topics.
Macklemore is at his best when exploring the human conditions and he does this beautifully on the closing track, “Excavate” feat Saint Clare:
“Hold me up into the light, and study every part of me / I’m an open book, no I don’t mind, and sometimes I’m hard to read / Just flesh and bone, I’m headed home, but this life is so hard to leave / But who am I, when they cut the lights, and nobody’s watching me?”
As a whole, Gemini is a strong album and it’s been on constant rotation this past weekend. Though some songs get skipped (I’m struggling with the Lil’ Yachty collaboration) I would highly recommend this album to anyone who needs a pick-me-up this upcoming week.
If his concerts didn’t sell out so quickly, I’d be waiting another 13 hours for Macklemore’s next concert in Los Angeles.