When Mac Miller put out his debut album, Blue Slide Park, the critical praise that had seemed deservedly forthcoming after years of churning out impressively accessible mixtapes, fell short. Seemingly undeterred, Miller pressed on, releasing the creatively astute Macadelic, which, despite alienating his insipid frat-boy audience, represented a rapper with a newfound direction, inseminated with both vision and dexterity.
The other night, despite being young and having access to the internet, I sat down and listened to the record in its entirety.
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WMWTSO is an album that rewards with further listens, modestly complimented by its big name features, rather than propped up by them. Afterwards, I sat down with Mac Miller to talk about the record. A meeting that was interesting, not just because a rapper my age is much easier to level with than a balding krautrock aficionado who spends his evening cranking into copies of Guitar Weekly. When Jay Eletronica put out his Eternal Sunshine tape he was lauded as the saviour of hip-hop.
Since then, though, he's become something of an enigma, tweeting and deleting tracklists for his ever forthcoming debut album, shying away from the media and practically marrying into the Rothschild family. A couple of weeks back, before the tracklist for Watching Movies With The Sound Off was released, hawk-eyed Twitter users will have spotted Mac and Jay having a conversation about a " holy grail ". Jay has since deleted his tweets obviously , but it turns out that the holy grail was a guest spot on Mac's album. Something which even the highest freemason's of hip-hop have been unable to attain.
Jay Electronica is a good friend.
We just chop it up a lot. The plan is to link up with him in London, I want to hear his album. The rap internet have been salivating over Earl Sweatshirt's Doris for an aeon, with new music from the Odd Future cohort capable of morphing a snap-backed hip-hop fan into a lust-ridden teen girl with an infatuation that renders them unable to sleep at night. So, when the news broke that Earl, no longer one of the youngest, but certainly one of the best in the game, would be appearing on Watching Movies With The Sound Off, people were chomping at the bit.
It's not the only record that the two have recorded together, though.
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Earl frequently hangs out in Mac's LA mansion, using his home studio to record. His album is incredible. That song was the birth of everything. Late , Mac, under his Larry Fisherman moniker, put out an EP that involved him crooning over jazz instrumentals. He's a self taught musician, capable of lending hands to the core four: guitar, piano, drums and bass.
But, how does Mac feel about capably sliding his work inbetween the luscious soundscapes of Flying Lotus, Pharrell and Clams Casino, who have also produced records on the album? The titular ladders are the central metaphor here, focusing on striving for new heights and taking hold of the next run as soon as you can. Breezy and open and relaxed, with a focus on live instrumentation and an improvisational atmosphere, The Divine Feminine served as a remarkably confident announcement that Mac Miller had arrived in the third act of his career a very real tragedy after his untimely passing is that there was no indication that this third act would be his final one.
Long past the carefree party rap that laid the foundation for his career, Mac had spent the last few years mining his darkest artistic impulses; this was his turn back towards the light. By now, Miller had learned how to let songs develop, to breathe, and started to value the kind of song you could keep on repeat forever rather than deploying his ever-sharp writing in bursts. This was one of the best examples of that coming to fruition.
The DNA of Mac Miller's 'Watching Movies With The Sound Off' - VICE
Though many would take umbrage at his willingness to touch a classic, Miller would eventually win many of his critics over by simply always striving for improvement and knowing what he was talking about. The Divine Feminine found Mac Miller uncharacteristically happy. After moving to L. Even in his romantic posture, Miller places himself outside the industry; outside its deathly culture of abuse. Miguel A booming piece of skittering drums and bursting strings with a dance-y breakdown aimed squarely at the hip-hop that was working on the charts in However, at this point, far removed from the carefree early days of his teens, there are regrets creeping into the hedonism.
The song, now painful to listen to, is the best example of how simply and directly he was capable of laying out exactly what he was going through on record. Clarke Tolton for RollingStone.