Best of the B Sides: “Otherside”

Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis rose to popularity for all the wrong reasons. Fans of the duo tend to focus on the message and not the music, which is half of the battle. That being said, their songs that became well-known are good songs, but there’s better in their repertoire. I get really upset about this because Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are fantastic but there’s too much focus on their hits for their truly great work to shine, which is the whole reason why I started this feature. Many spectacular songs go overlooked because singles get the attention, which is understandable and logical, but I’d love to shed a little light on lesser-known songs. That being said, there are a handful of songs from their 2012 debut The Heist that I could choose for this week, but we’re going to go back a little farther so I can show you the real reason why I love Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

Back before the duo made it big, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis released an EP called VS. Redux in 2010, and on that EP is their masterpiece: “Otherside.” I’ve gotta warn you, the music video is really heavy; I made the mistake of watching it at nine thirty in the morning one day. But what’s so fascinating about “Otherside” is how genuinely excellent it is because it’s smart how they approached the song. It’s simple, and there’s not a lot going on to distract the listener; just Ben Haggerty’s (Macklemore’s) rapping, an understated piano/beat/guitar trio, and stellar guest vocals by Christopher Mansfield of Fences*. With this song stripped down to its bare essentials, it’s claustrophobic, and that’s the only way this song could have come together. You’ve got nowhere to go when you listen to it. This song is an experience. Not to mention that some of the lyrics are downright stunning. Hard to believe that this came from the same duo who rapped about bargain hunting.

*Worth noting that Haggerty is open about his sobriety, as is Mansfield, adding to the complexity of this song.

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  1. Pingback: Pop Music Brings Its A-Game - Rock On Philly

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