There are a lot of words that can be used to describe Macklemore’s music. Innovative? Sure. Political? You bet. Weird af? Definitely. Easy listening? Probably not. Macklemore has always been the artist that you put on when you want to do something. Want to turn up at a party? You’ll probably throw on “Thrift Shop.” Talking about the racism in this country? “White Privilege II” might just be the song for you. But what if you want to just chill out and do some homework or relax on a random afternoon? There wasn’t a Macklemore song for that. At least that was before “Gemini” came out.
On Sept. 22, Macklemore released “Gemini”, his first studio album without producer Ryan Lewis since he put “The Language of My World” out back in 2005. Gemini is something unique to the Macklemore music-verse. As a comprehensive, everything-has-its-own-place album “Gemini” would be seen as a complete failure. But if you look at it as a one directional, one story album, you’re looking at it wrong.
“Gemini” consists of 16 different songs and each song is like its own musical act. To create the album, Macklemore collaborated with 15 other artists and only one of the 16 tracks is a solo track of just Macklemore himself. Normally, having 16 random songs on the same album would seem really odd, and yet it somehow works. These 16 different tracks create a happy sense of chaos and nowhere in the album will you say that is isn’t Macklemore or feel lost.
The album opens with “Glorious” featuring Skylar Grey. While “Ain’t Gonna Die Tonight” featuring Eric Nally is the official opener, “Glorious” is the first time listeners hear about Macklemore’s real plans for this album. In “Can’t Hold Us,” Macklemore wants to tell everyone far and wide that he is back. “Gemini” is Macklemore’s rebirth.
And with his rebirth, Macklemore wants to show the entire world that he is just like them. At first listen, “Intentions” is just Macklemore giving a list of things that he wants to do. And then you really start listening and you hear “I wanna get exercise, but I'm too lazy to workout” and “I wanna eat healthy, but I'ma eat this Digiornos” directly from Macklemore’s mouth. His problems and the things he wants to achieve are the same as those of everyone else. It’s Macklemore allowing himself to be honest on stage and a reminder that, at the end of the day, everything will be okay.
The album was released with the single “Good Old Days” featuring Kesha. Both artists have achieved huge fame for themselves and have been through some dark times since they became famous. “Good Old Days” has both artists singing about and reminiscing about the past when everything was simpler.
“Ten Million” is the only solo song for Macklemore in the album and, like every other song on the album, it is uniquely Macklemore. Macklemore spends three minutes rapping in his special way about how he has earned all “ten million” of his albums sold. His career is something he built up on his own.
The strongest song on the album is the last one. “Excavate” featuring Saint Claire is Macklemore’s ode to his daughter. And he is mighty proud of her: “My greatest achievement is my daughter/Waking up in the morning, being a father/Watching the light kiss her eyelids/Hearing her sing along to Chance/And being like, yeah, that's my kid.” Excavate refers to the idea that his daughter scraps away all the pain he holds inside. He is proud of everything he has created, but at the end of the day, it’s all for his family. His music career is who he is and he’s proud of that.
With “Gemini” Macklemore has created an album with tracks that could end up on any playlist. Nothing on the album feels forced and for the first time, it seems that we get a unique look into the private life of Macklemore himself. Upon seeing it, we realize that Macklemore is no different from the rest of us. And that allows everyone to find something in the album to connect with.
The album is representative of the new Macklemore and it will be very interesting to see where he continues to go.