Mac Miller has shown us many different faces from his debut of his impressive mixtape, “K.I.D.S.,” back in 2010 to where he’s at now. Being the fun and loving stoner white kid rapping is tough to get yourself noticed. However, with relatable tracks like “Senior Skip Day,” “The Spins,” and “Outside,” he had a chilled-out flow that showed he wasn’t really looking to impress anyone. After “K.I.D.S.,” Pittsburgh local Mac decided to drop another mixtape (Best Day Ever) alongside his debut studio album, “Blue Slide Park.” At this point in time, I felt like I had lost faith in Mac. “Blue Slide Park” had the corniest vibe ever to me, and what once was a fun, chill-out flow developed into a cocky, unoriginal style that made me dismiss his music for a while. After this it seemed like Mac began to fall off, only releasing another mixtape, titled “Macadelic,” that seemed like a glimmer of hope for the direction he was heading in, which came as a pleasant surprise. Once 2013 rolled around, a track leaked, “S.D.S.,” produced by Flying Lotus (easily one of the best producers in the game right now) and I was instantly interested in what Mac was bringing to the table that year.
Then he dropped “Watching Movies with the Sound Off,” easily one of the most impressive independent rap releases of 2013. However, something seemed different. Mostly dark, ominous beats with Mac seemingly slurring a sloppy, albeit way more impressive, flow certainly began raising questions. What drugs did he start using? How depressed was he? At that point it, didn’t even seem to matter, people were loving what Mac was releasing and I for sure was a big fan. I had that album on repeat most of my senior year of high school and I was hooked – tracks like “I Am Who I Am (Killin Time)” were downright haunting, with Niki Randa’s beautiful vocal loop and great lyrical imagery, as well as “Objects In the Mirror,” one of the first times you see Mac wear his heart on his sleeve, singing a mildly off-key melody alongside a beat produced by Pharrell.
After “Watching Movies with the Sound Off,” my interest in Mac Miller nearly peaked, and he still managed to impress me quite well with his mixtape release of “Faces” in 2014. I’ve always heard people say that artists make their best work when they’re at some of the lowest points in their life, and as sad as it is, it really seems true in a lot of situations. Faces was as drug-laden and depressed as Mac himself was at the time, and it really, really showed. With mentions of codeine, cocaine, and even angel dust, it became clearly apparent that the K.I.D. himself is now an adult, facing real issues that fame can sometimes bring to your plate.
One of the first things I noticed that really interested me about this album was the features. Mac seemed very picky about whom he let on this album, and the result is certainly intriguing – Ab-Soul, Lil B, Miguel, Chief Keef and Little Dragon are the only features on an album of 17 songs, which is always pleasant to see. It’s disappointing when an artist has features thrown all over 90 percent of their songs on an album, I feel like it begins to show that the artist can’t really handle himself and may let themselves get shown up by the feature. From the get-go, Mac makes it very clearly known that “They saying that I’m sober, I’m just in a better place.” It seems like he may feel the need to clarify this because while he’s not fully clean and off drugs, he blatantly cut-out some of the harder drugs, and realized the happiness in life by going outside and having more interactions – and he doesn’t want any misinterpretations from the critics of what is going on in his life. The production comes as a large standout throughout the entire album, mostly produced by ID Labs. Even Tyler, the Creator makes an appearance under production credits for producing the first track, ‘Doors’. A dream-like soundscape opens up with Mac Miller’s nasally vocals singing. His singing could be an acquired taste because it isn’t necessarily good, however something about it seems so genuine and honest that it makes you want to continue listening, no matter how slightly off-key and nasal-filled it is. The track ends off with a woman’s voice saying “Good morning, baby,” a proper way to fully open up the album as the album title is a clever play on the phrase “Good morning.”
There are genuinely so many songs I find incredible on this album, I mention nearly half of the songs on this album as standout tracks (at the bottom), but I truly feel this. So many of the songs on this album really hit me and invoke so many different feelings from each track, from the song-writing, to the production, to the lyrics, Mac has grown incredibly and really put his strongest effort into this album and it shows on so many different levels. However, with this new album, I find myself already throwing on as often as I can, songs like “Jump” seem like nothing Mac Miller ever would have ever been a part of; it might be one of my favorite instrumentals I’ve heard of this year so far. While this album as a whole is extremely complex, for face value, I’d say it’s certainly one of the most accessible albums of 2015 so far, and even one of the best.
Mac’s always had a fairly recognizable voice and flow, with it always sounding slightly different dependent on the beats he hops on and to really reiterate the point, these beats are good and Mac sounds even better on them. His infliction and flow from “Watching Movies with the Sound Off” is all there, but this time you can sense the sheer confidence and actual happiness in his tone, and being a long time follower of Mac, it’s really great to hear from him. What once was him rapping about the downfall of fame and drug abuse, has now developed into him realizing the greatness that is fame when you can treat it the right way. As the album progresses, the originality of itself really shines through, each track has a very strong identity. It never seems like Mac is having an identity crisis, but instead exploring his potential and vibe-ing out to the beats, figuring out what works. Mac has finally touched back down to Earth and got his head on his shoulders, but he still remains that fun-loving goofball type, who has now cut the hard stuff and is doing what he really wants. He finally seems truly happy. In reality, the more and more I’ve thought about it, and let the music really soak in – this is the album I’ve always wanted from Mac. Smart, funny, great features, better instrumentals and a blast to listen to overall, I sincerely hope this album blows up and people recognize him for his talent. It seems like he went from being labeled as a ‘frat rapper’ to ‘wide-eyed gloat rapper’ and eventually to a ‘dark drug rapper’ – and now I feel that he can truly just identify himself as “Mac Miller.”
Standout Tracks: “Clubhouse,” “The Festival” featuring Little Dragon, “When in Rome,” “Perfect Circle / Godspeed,” “ROS,” “Cut the Check” featuring Chief Keef, “Ascension,” and “Jump”
Zach Ritz is a third-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at ZR812833@wcupa.edu.