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Macklemore's new song 'Growing Up' is a cuddly bit of calculation

Macklemore's new song 'Growing Up' is a cuddly bit of calculation
Listen to "Growing Up (Sloane's Song)," a new track by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ed Sheeran. (By Mikael Wood)

Surely you wouldn't diss a doting new dad, would you?

That's the question that seems to animate "Growing Up (Sloane's Song)," a deeply sensitive ditty from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis that appeared online Wednesday. The Seattle hip-hop duo's first new music since their Grammy-winning 2012 album "The Heist," the song addresses Macklemore's two-month-old daughter, whom he assures he'll do his best to raise even as he attends to the demands of his career.

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"Don't wanna be a dad that's living in FaceTime," he raps over a low-slung soul-rock groove, "But I got a world to sing to and you at the same time."

It's all very cute, especially when Ed Sheeran drops in to belt a chorus about how "you'll wrap your fingers around my thumb."

But given the controversy that surrounded Macklemore's success -- the complicated questions about cultural appropriation and white privilege -- "Growing Up" also feels like a calculated strategic move, one meant to soften Mackmore's image and preempt more criticism before he and Lewis return with their follow-up to "The Heist." (Think of the widely adored Sheeran as a human shield.)

In a statement, Macklemore said "Growing Up"-- which goes on to recommend the work of Langston Hughes and Sam Cooke to little Sloane -- was "the right song to re-emerge with" because it reflects "where I've been the last year, through all the ups and downs."

Yet the statement also insists that the track "is NOT an official lead single" from the duo's next album, but rather "a personal moment of expression" intended for their fans.

Well, maybe. To my ears, though, "Growing Up" is clearly meant for the haters.

Twitter: @mikaelwood

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