It’s the return of the Mack, and he’s feeling more powerful than ever in this latest project of his.
In Macklemore’s first official departure from longtime producer and friend Ryan Lewis, this new album Gemini is all about self empowerment, and taking a deeper look into Macklemore; more about his life. Macklemore is known for being both comedic in his raps, and dealing with serious, personal issues that are very important for his demographic. His last album “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made” was coincidently a bit of a mess of an album, though there was a couple fantastic tracks on it like the explosive “Downtown” and “Kevin”, the rest of the album lacked in substance and just had a lot of half-assed, “funny” tracks on it that were ultimately going to be swept away in the cringe bin. Of course, the legendary “The Heist” was Macklemore’s call to fame, and turned him into the self made superstar that he is today. His astrological sign Gemini is a centre piece for the album, as both he and his daughter Sloan are under the same sign; Gemini, the sign of power.
Gemini starts off strong with starting off the self-empowerment theme in “Ain’t Gonna Die Tonight” which features Eric Nelly (he sings in Downtown as well). This song is a great intro for the album as it helps motivate the listener to get what they want with a strong confidence, “I ain’t dead yet!!”. The first single off this project, “Glorious” ft. Skylar Grey features an amazing chorus sung by Skylar, its another song about empowerment, and what it means to be a Gemini. Its a super positive song, like how can you hate this song? Hitting all the right notes so far for me. This album is feature heavy, with a new artist flavour for each song, although it is refreshing to hear someone new on each track, it kind of feels all over the place like Unruly Mess did. On the quirky, fun-loving track “Marmalade” ft. Lil Yachty, Mack and Lil Boat trade verses rapping about riding through the town bumping your music, alone on the road. The piano plucks and beat sound remarkably similar to DRAM and Yachty’s blowout track “Broccoli”, so for me this Marmalade track sounds like a bit of a rip off of that song, with nothing really sticking out for me, couple of funny lines on this song, but yeah, nothing fantastic about this track.
Getting to the BANGERS of the album, the song “Willy Wonka” ft. Offset from the Migos, this song goes off. This track is about “having flavour”, style and class I guess, with Mack and Offset rapping with that iconic trap flow, loved the instrumental on this track, the loud lead synth on the chorus is infectious and gets you off your seat to dab around the room, or whatever people dance like nowadays. Changing the mood entirely is the self-aware, acoustic guitar laded track “Intentions” ft. Dan Caplen, “All my little problems keep on buildin’ up, and buildin’ up, All my good intentions just ain’t good enough, can’t find the love”, this track is Macklemore weighing his ideals against his desires. I really like Macklemore tracks like this one, where he talks about the real personal struggles of people in this day and age, the lyric: “I wake up in the morning, first thing I do is look at a screen, at a screen” is so relevant to people in this day and age of progressive technology taking over our lives, and having intentions to be better is something that constantly gives anxieties to the people struggling to be productive when they’re constantly thinking about whats going on on Instagram or Facebook.
The song “Good Old Days” ft. Kesha at first instantly reminded me of Rihanna’s “Stay” with an almost identical chorus melody sung by the newly inspired Kesha after her sobering album “Rainbow”. This song is about remembering where you came from, and appreciating what you have and where you’re at currently. Macklemore talks about the days when he was a nobody, playing super small venues and just trying to get his name out, chasing girls around, and generally the good old days that he can reminisce on now. Nice, heartwarming track, and Kesha did a nice job singing on this, even if it is a rip off. Gemini couldn’t be a Macklemore album without its own dance track, and “Levitate” ft. Otieno Terry is exactly that. Nice, crisp drum track on this one, with Mack using his usual fast spitting cadence, Mack is “levitating” around the dance floor, getting everyone jiggy wit it. I really like the hook on this song, with the infectious “whoa whoa whoa’s”, its hard not to be dancing around my room as I listen to this track.
The next few tracks “Fire Breather“, “How to Play the Flute“, “Ten Million“, “Over It” and “Zara” are pretty damn lacklustre, more wacky, comedic tracks mixed with the empowering Gemini theme, I lost interest after realizing that all these songs are just super mediocre. I did really enjoy the idea of the track “Corner Store” which is a hilarious track talking about being “posted at the corner store”, “rollin’ through the city”, getting high off various drugs and living without “thinking ‘bout tomorrow”. wacky production, probably won’t listen to it again, but cool way to write a song. The whole flute instrumental that is obviously a play on Future’s “Mask Off” on the track “How to Play the Flute” is funny and “lit” at first, but leaves so much to be desired in content, its just a silly track.
The last few songs on the album are very slow paced and emotional, particularly on the closing track “Excavate” which features some of Macklemore’s best lyrics to date: “Can you remember your intention when they question yours? They’re gonna question yours, they’re gonna question yours I’ve been at rock bottom and I’m headed North If you don’t love yourself, what’s the respect for? If you don’t love life, the check won’t correct yours, Excavate”. All in all, this album is very similar to his last project Unruly Mess, in the sense that there was a few amazing tracks on the album, but for the most part the album just feels cheap, boring and leaves a lot to be desired, but I mean Macklemore is the type of rapper to make corny funny and cool, so big Macklemore fans will love this album.