“Don’t try to change the world, find something that you love
And do it every day
Do that for the rest of your life
And eventually, the world will change”
- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ed Sheeran / Growing up (Sloane’s song)
Summer may be drawing to a close, but for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, it’s not too late for a breezy moped cruise–or gang showdown, for that matter–on a sunny afternoon. Their new single, “Downtown,” and it’s accompanying video is a frenetic and jubilant affair that has been stuck in my head all day. Macklemore picks up where he left off with 2013’s “Thrift Shop,” only this time it’s mopeds he’s haggling over, not cheap clothing, and when he finds the one he wants, he rides it through the wall of the store and out of sight. From there, it’s choreographed dances, leisurely cruises with the ladies, streetcorner showdowns a la West Side Story, and more over five and a half gloriously bizarre minutes.
Like the video, the song is scatterbrained and has a short attention span, but this, for me, is what makes it so much fun. The rap flops back and forth between Macklemore’s laidback flow and his veteran guests’ edgy gang vocals, periodically and abruptly giving way to Eric Nally’s euphoric and melodic chorus, delivered in a voice reminiscent of early 90’s Michael Jackson. The narrative element, the bizarre props, and the eclectic cast of characters make the whole thing feel more like a musical number than a song, and while I’ve always abhorred musicals, “Downtown” is possibly the most fun I’ve had with a music video this year. Even Macklemore’s critics, who seethed last year when he and Lewis won a Grammy despite accusations of cultural appropriation similar to those leveled at Iggy Azalea, will struggle not to be impressed with this one.