Macklemore was a guest star on Fences' “Arrows” single last year, but today marks the first time since the rapper and collaborator Ryan Lewis have released new music since they raked in all those Grammys in 2014.
“Growing Up (Sloane's Song)” is an ode to Macklemore's two-month-old baby daughter Sloane — but much like the duo's big hit “Same Love,” the song is just as much about Macklemore as it is about the “message” he's trying to portray.
And this is generally OK. It's earnest as hell, eventually giving way to a listicle of life lessons like a high school graduation speech. Ed Sheeran's tone-perfect soul croon lifts the weight, along with the moaning and happy horns section.
The subtext here is that Macklemore is trying to “grow up” as he's preparing to help raise his daughter on an unfair planet (“They say girls shouldn't be tough/And moms should raise their kids at home/But baby, I know that that isn't true”), just as he was still grappling with the constrictions and heartache of fame as a rising and yet unsteady star in “Arrows.” “Growing Up” is less like Jay-Z's “Glory,” and more on par with Common's “Retrospect for Life” (featuring Lauryn Hill, amen) or Royce da 5'9″'s “Life”: It's about the reticence of fatherhood, and feeling ill-prepared to raise a child not only because of your own hindrances, but also because of intrinsic racial and gender bias in society.
In short, addressing personal weakness and eliminating overstatement in rap is hard. As Macklemore says in the post below, “I knew I had to change,” and he's just working through some feelings, delivering them bluntly over a very catchy melody. The tune could catch fire with a lot of new dads who are trying to find their way, just as Macklemore's lyricism is weaving its way to a more humble (if verily simpler) perspective.
I wish that I could say that I was in a “better place” when I found out the news. It would make for a far more polished and respectable story. But I think back to that night: praying on the floor at 2am as Tricia went to the bathroom to take the pregnancy test I”d just purchased from Walgreens. I was scared. Scared to start working on new music. Scared of trying again and failing. Scared of the process of staring at myself through a page and seeing someone that I wasn”t proud of. Someone that I didn”t like. Someone that wasn”t ready to be a dad.
I”ve always had some make-believe image in my head of who I would be as a father. I held on to clear expectations of where I wanted be in my career, my age, my level of self-care, and my maturity. I basically assumed that I'd have it all together. But in actuality the hypothetical “dad” version of me looked completely different than the man whose heart was beating out of his chest on the carpet, praying to a god or spirit I hadn”t talked to in months. When Tricia walked out of the bathroom, I knew. And I knew I had to change.
5 months later we were recording in a remote cabin away from the density that is Seattle. I was finally having fun in the studio for the first time in years. Songs were getting made, finally. I was going back to the city once a week to attend a birthing class with Tricia. When I got back to the cabin the next day, Ryan had made a new beat that would eventually become the song you”re listening to. Half of it is advice about growing up. The other half is trying to figure out how to grow up myself.
When you try to escape yourself, life has an interesting way of creating situations that force you to come back. To look at who you are. This is why “Growing up” felt like the right song to re-emerge with. It”s where I”ve been the last year, through all the ups and downs. We didn”t want to do a big campaign or anything over the top with this. We just wanted to put out good music, directly to the people that have been here since the beginning. Thank you for your patience. Hope you enjoy.
And if you”re wondering…
Our daughter, Sloane Ava Simone Haggerty was born 2 months ago on May 29th. There is nothing like the joy and happiness that comes from bringing a baby into this universe. She has filled my heart in ways that I never knew were possible. She is the love of my life. This song is for her.