I’ve never been much of a Macklemore believer even though I had to admit that The Heist was full of undeniable hits. His follow-up to that mega record which shot him into unlikely stardom was a dud and really only solidified my belief that Macklemore is a slightly above average rapper at best. With that being said I was still intrigued to hear Gemini, because this would be the first time I’d hear him without longtime collaborator and major reason for his meteoric rise, Ryan Lewis. Maybe he could reinvent himself.
“Remember the old days and playin’ for co-signs
When labels offer me pay, I said that I won’t sign
I took my weakness and turned that into a weapon
And when everybody doubted me, I turned that to my leverage
So I stand up on the stage, it wasn’t planned, see it was destined”
Surprisingly, or rather unsurprisingly depending on where you stand, if I didn’t know beforehand that this was a solo affair I would have assumed that Ryan Lewis was still at the helms, it’s that similar to his past work. Still that churchy, commercial ready production that made him such a universally likable figure on The Heist. I can’t say it’s bad production, it’s not, it’s just nothing new and far from the shakeup I was hoping to hear since he broke solo. There aren’t any grand political messages here this time around (thank god) but Macklemore’s still either entirely too self serious or gratingly goofy; he seems to be entirely incapable of subtlety. All my personal gripes aside, Gemini does still have some really enjoyable moments here — he kills the hip-hop flute (“How To Play the Flute”) — and has a great mix of guests, but it’s either you love his style or you don’t at this point because that’s all your going to get.
Have you heard Gemini? What’d you think about it? Were you expecting more a drastic change since splitting with Ryan Lewis? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your own ratings and reactions for the album.
Gemini was another generic Macklemore album despite being his first solo effort in years; full of some enjoyable moments of his signature churchy, feel good music but ultimately dragged down by his continued lack of subtlety or elevated artistry. Either you love his style by now or you don't, because that's all you're going to get.