It’s been a moment since we became joyfully exposed to the infectious hook of Macklemore’s Thrift Shop back in 2012, the Grammy award winning record laying the way for various memes and slang terminology for years to come. 2017 sees the release of Gemini, Macklemore’s first solo outing since putting his career with Ryan Lewis on hiatus to cover new ground.
Gemini has quite a youthful, uplifting and positive vibration radiating through it, both in a lyrical and musical sense. Ain’t Gonna Die Tonight begins the album off with an anthem, with guest vocalist Eric Nally returning from Downtown, to lay down the chorus chants that lay the foundation for the tone of the album, filled with soul and executed in flawless fashion. Other lead singles Marmalade and Glorious have a brilliant production sheen over them, with Skylar Grey’s brilliant vocals providing heartfelt delivery on the latter.
Tracks such as Intentions and Good Old Days (which features some delightful vocals from Kesha) deal with the internal struggles of growing up in a coming-of-age fashion, but it’s here (half-way through the album) that the music/instrumental side of this album isn’t as adventurous as his previous endeavours with Ryan Lewis, and it becomes quite distracting. You’re waiting for more from the album, but the beats stay simplistic and repetitive, and while that’s usually a custom within the hip-hop/rap genre, this is the product from an artist who’d previously pushed the boundaries. It’s not the worst thing in the world, and far from a cardinal sin, it’s just disappointing as I expected more.
Levitate and Firebreather are more standout tracks, which delve more into different genres of 80’s funk and rock’n’roll. The finale track Excavate is quite a tearjerker as Macklemore delivers some of his most honest and reflective lyrics describing how it feels to be a father, and how’d he’d be judged in the eyes of God when his time on Earth is complete. While we’d previously had amazing performances with Same Love, Wings and Otherside, which had rather heavy lyrical subject matter, it’s good to see something different presented, it doesn’t feel fake or forced, its still honest and keeping with the character that Macklemore has presented to the world.
Gemini is an honest reflection of one of hip-hop’s greatest performers of recent years, who’s choosing to take a more light hearted approach to his art and celebrate his success and journey in such a way that listeners and fans alike can appreciate and relate to.
Review by Wezley Stark Pitt