Release Date: Sep 16, 2016
Record label: Warner Bros.
Genre(s): Rap, Contemporary R&B, Alternative Rap, Midwest Rap
As a way to illustrate the sincerity implied in its title, The Divine Feminine begins and ends with the voices of women. Ariana Grande introduces Mac Miller's first Warner Bros. release, and in its conclusion, Miller's grandmother details with fondness the history of her relationship with her husband. In between the two tracks, to the point of compulsion, Miller frequently notes his aptitude in the bedroom and his insatiable appetite therein, or wherever else the mood strikes.
Mac Miller isn’t the Divine Feminine. The Pittsburgh keg-stander turned style-sampling artisan isn’t making a play at defining femininity. This isn’t an attempt to examine feminism in any way. He isn’t being facetious or woke. In fact, he doesn’t even try to explore what being a woman is ….
For a rapper so bogged down by clichés early in his career, Mac Miller has done an impressively great job at subverting expectations musically. The bubbly youthfulness of K.I.D.S. morphed into the introspective brooding of Watching Movies with the Sound Off and soon the drug-addled face of the new school (whose popularity once comfortably reached the heights of fellow classmate Kendrick Lamar) retreated into himself.
It’s interesting to watch influence in real-time: you could see the hip-hop and R&B artists attempt darker, fuller, more ambitious projects in the wake of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; likewise, you can see hip-hop and R&B artists becoming more socially conscious in the wake of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. In fact, the latter seems to be the main inspiration for Mac Miller’s newest LP, The Divine Feminine, though, to be blunt, he seems to care more about pussy than he does the political scene happening around him. In other words, the influence isn’t to do with lyrics, but rather the sonics.
On his fourth album, Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller continues to move past the drugged-out party-boy persona of his 2011 debut. Following last year's introspective GO:OD A.M., he's now a smooth lover man; he charmingly fits low-key bedroom patter over trumpet-driven Chance the Rapper-style jazziness on "Stay," and rides alongside Anderson .Paak over the chilled-out house groove of "Dang!" But Miller's grown-ass beats clash with his juvenile boasts ("I just eat pussy, other people need food"), so he often ends up sounding like a well-meaning kid who can't stop putting his kicks up on the fancy furniture. .
There’s one thing on the mind of Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller, and it’s swinging between his legs. But he’s honest about his constant horn, and, audibly high off natural perfumes, parlays it into an album that worships and ogles in equal measure. The touchstones are D’Angelo, Aquemini-era Outkast, Chance the Rapper’s muted trumpets, and the psychedelic soul of Cee-Lo Green’s early solo LPs, with the latter turning up for some ruminative vocals on the gorgeous, sure-footed We.
As he proudly proclaims on “Skin”, Mac Miller “finally wrote a fucking song.” The only problem is, there’s a slight possibility that his recently confirmed romantic relationship with pop singer du jour Ariana Grande may have significantly influenced the creation of his new album, The Divine Feminine, lending it a tawdry, hyper-sexualized feel that, more often than not, gets uncomfortable. From beginning to end, graphic descriptions of coital interactions with an anonymous “somebody” litter the Pittsburgh native’s follow-up to 2015’s GO:OD AM. It’s not exactly off-kilter for Mac; sexualized, mysoginistic overtones run rampant throughout his catalog, but it’s the way he does it on this album that’s even weirder.
Mac Miller has worn a few different hats throughout his many years in the game. When the Pittsburgh native first introduced himself to fans around 2007, he was a friendly pot-smoking rhymer. From there, he’s shown he’s a mellowed-out producer, an experimenter in psychedelics, a spiritual rhymeslinger, a sober optimist and now the hat he chooses to bare is that of a hopeless romantic shown on his fourth studio release, The Divine Feminine.