WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT MACKLEMORE.

  1. Like many of you, I watched the VMAs. Like many of you, I found much of it confusing. But the one thing that stuck out - apart from Kanye's speech/bid for the presidency - was Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's new song "Downtown."
    Link to the music video here: http://bit.ly/1KozVEE
  2. I've never cared much either way about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (who together will henceforth be referred to as "Macklemore"). I knew that hip hop aficionados didn't like them, and the word "appropriation" has been tossed around quite a bit (and for good reason). But sure, I've danced to "Thrift Shop" at parties. I'm only human.
  3. "Downtown" begins innocuously enough. Sure, it's not NOT "Uptown Funk" adjacent with its use of horns and similar video choreography (not to mention it's called "Downtown" - hey, that's like "Uptown," but the other way!), but you know, trends and influences, Taylor Swift did a dubstep song, these things happen.
    I want to go on record as saying I love Taylor Swift's dubstep song. Love it with all my heart.
  4. And then Macklemore starts rapping about mopeds. Like, exclusively about mopeds. Shopping for a moped, how cool mopeds are, what mopeds look like - literally, one full minute of this song is an ode to mopeds.
    Macklemore is a playful rapper. Love him or hate him for it, this is what he does. Do I love him, or do I hate him? I DON'T KNOW.
  5. Then he starts rapping about Bugattis, which Google tells me is a fancy car. But then he's riding on a motorcycle that is outfitted with a moose head. What happened to the mopeds? Don't worry, they'll be back.
    I don't like this verse. Macklemore raps about brand names (conventional) and mentions his scrotum (unpleasant). No thanks.
  6. Moped praise aside, so far this has been a pretty conventional hip hop song. ENTER THE MAN ON THE EAGLE MOTORCYCLE CHARIOT.
    His name is Atilio Escobar, and he has the voice of an androgynous angel.
  7. Nearly two minutes into the song, with AN ALREADY-ESTABLISHED HOOK, we get A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT HOOK, AND IT IS CATCHY AS FUCK. It's as if Jim Steinman and Queen and Giorgio Moroder joined forces and wrote a Broadway musical.
    This is why this song is interesting. This is why this song is worth talking about. Atilio Escobar crashes in out of NOWHERE and DESTROYS the track. It breaks all the rules of conventional songwriting. It shouldn't be here. It has fuckall to do with mopeds. But it is glorious.
  8. The next section of the song is the "Orca" to "Uptown Funk"'s "Jaws." It is derivative in every way (which isn't entirely fair, as "Uptown Funk" was stylistically derivative by design, but this song is blatantly referencing a reference).
  9. Macklemore goes on to praise bigger women (sure, okay!) then says he likes them sassy (ooo, kinda racist!) and listening to Blackstreet (please don't call black women "sassy," Macklemore!).
    Even in a song I may kind of love (or not, I don't know!), Macklemore needs to work on how he handles race in his songwriting. So says this one white boy.
  10. Macklemore rhymes "tiramisu" with "tearin' my suit" and I can't tell if it's brilliant or stupid.
    This applies to the other 5+ minutes of this song as well.
  11. THEN THE "DOWNTOWN" CHORUS COMES BACK AND ALL IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD.
  12. So, what do we make of this? I know I love Atilio Escobar, that hook is UNDENIABLE. I also admire the playfulness of the structure and the audacity to write an unironic hip hop anthem praising mopeds. But is it GOOD?
  13. I've listened to it over a dozen times today alone. So you tell me.