Release Date: Jun 18, 2013
Record label: Island
Genre(s): Alternative Rap, Pop-Rap
Mac Miller’s growth since 2011’s Blue Slide Park has been an exponential spectacle, with his atypical path leading up to Watching Movies With The Sound Off marked by a young man’s pursuit for harmony in a scene of personal skepticism. In between those 20 months in which this quirky, independent Pittsburgh emcee topped the Billboard charts, Mac has released a number of projects, none similar to the next, flirted with alter-egos, and dabbled in self-production, all the while dealing with an addiction to Promethazine that hampered his musical disposition. Now, Mac Miller is more focused, with his sophomore set lending a thorough look into the 21-year-old’s life.
Heart is no longer an expectation within the realms of contemporary music. Yet that's exactly what has allowed this fun-loving Jewish kid from Pittsburgh, Mac Miller, to create his exceptional sophomore album, Watching Movies with the Sound Off. He cleverly employs a credible list of guests, including Earl Sweatshirt and Jay Electronica, using them as the framework for something he's always been great at: rapping his ass off.
Two years ago, when Mac Miller’s independent debut Blue Slide Park appeared, out of the blue, at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for its first week sales, I compared Miller to iconic flash in the pans like Tim Tebow and Jack Johnson. I posited that Miller makes a comforting sort of boom bappin’ Wiz Khalifa pop rap that doesn’t push any buttons and isn’t eager to and that if the kids needed someone to turn on and tune out to for a few hours, there were worse options than Mr.
Mac Miller skated into rap with all the bottomless happy-go-lucky charm of a best friend’s insouciant little brother. The documents of his early career are the works of a kid very much in love with hip-hop but frustratingly ill-equipped to translate his verve into compelling music. His songs didn’t feel lived in; their observations were as slight as their lyrics were clunky.
Back in 2011, Mac Miller’s ‘Blue Slide Park’ became the first independent debut album to hit Number One in America since 1995. Fast-forward to 2013 and Miller is back with an album boasting guest spots from Odd Future duo Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt as he looks to build on his reputation as one of hip-hop’s biggest new names. Now in possession of a clearer sense of his own identity, the stoned haze of cloud-rap engulfs Miller’s rhymes as he undercuts the fug with animated lyrics and a keen sense of humour, comparing himself to Eastbound & Down character Kenny Powers and actor David Duchovny along the way.
After lighting up the suburban weekend night with his fun 2011 debut Blue Slide Park, Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller returns with another fun and somewhat filling release, but this light and breezy sophomore effort is more "one to listen to" than "one to party with. " Key cut "S. D.
There's a startling moment near the end of Mac Miller's ambitious second LP where all the playful boasts and wobbly beats seem to catch up with him, and he suddenly sounds like an overtired kid: The music drops away, his voice catches, and he sobs, "[I] keep cryin' 'cause I still ain't over my bitch. " (Granted, the previous two lines end "show you I'm rich" and "show me your tits. ") Miller – who already boasts a Number One debut and an MTV2 show chronicling his daily life – often raps like he's juggling, keeping aloft key themes (new fame, adolescent insecurity, blow jobs) while delivering lots of self-deprecating patter.
The standout element of Mac Miller's second studio album is the production. Featuring beats from hip-hop veteran the Alchemist, Brainfeeder boss Flying Lotus, cloud rap producer Clams Casino and Daft Punk's BFF Pharrell, Watching Movies With The Sound Off is the Pittsburgh rapper's best shot at being taken seriously. This means goofy songs like his bro-friendly hit Donald Trump (which drew Twitter ire from the billionaire himself) are out, in favour of reflective tales about struggling with drug addiction and the loss of a close friend, which Miller delivers in a hazy, conversational style.
“Shut your piehole,” Mac Miller raps on his Flying Lotus-produced “S.D.S.”, adding “I’m dope and I know.” It’s a meaningful affirmation. The Pittsburgh native had a devoted following before his debut proper, Blue Slide Park, came out in 2011, but that album brought out more snickering “let’s just call him Wack Miller” trolls than anything he’d done before (that’s to say nothing of the album’s negative critical reception, which included an infamous 1.0 review from Pitchfork). Miller never learned to like being so divisive; as a recent Complex cover story hammered home, the then-19-year-old soon started messing with promethazine, among other indulgences, to cope.
Mac Miller is a 21-year-old Jewish rapper from Pittsburgh whose mixtapes have rolled through the internet for the past few years, picking up tags such as "frat rap" and "stoner rap". "Snooze" might be a more appropriate prefix: here, his delivery and beats are pretty dull. More tedious still is the misogyny. On Gees, he repeats this line: "Bitch suck my dick before I slap you with it." Really? Without wishing to sound auntish, Miller is still really young; this effort is a whole lot better than Blue Slide Park, his 2011 debut album.
Label: Rostrum RecordsProduction: Earl Sweatshirt, Larry Fisherman, Randomblackdude, Flying Lotus, Clams Casino, I.D. Labs, Pharrell, Chuck Inglish, SAP, The Alchemist, AdoTheGod Written by: Ben Lester (bjams11) 10, 9, 8, 7, the theater lights begin to fade. 6, 5, 4, the countdown on the screen continues and the audience settles into their seats. 3, 2, 1, the screen goes black and the 6 o’clock showing of Mac Miller’s ‘Watching Movies with the Sound Off’ has commenced.
It’s been two years since Mac Miller released his debut album Blue Slide Park. The Pittsburgh rapper first burst on the scene as a teenager with boom-bap aspirations, only to be written off as a tween favorite and the white boy rapper du jour — a far cry from the “Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza” Mac Miller who rocked Lord Finesse’s “Hip 2 Da Game.” That stigma didn’t sit too well with Mac, who used his sophomore efforts Watching Movies With The Sound Off to eschew that image for a more mature and self assured sound. From the album’s opener “The Star Room,” it’s clear Mac’s looking to shatter the perceptions tied to his debut.