Mac Miller is a polarizing rapper. It's easy to write him off out of hand because he's a white kid from the 'burbs who managed to blow up in a traditionally black genre. His debut record Blue Slide Park was the first independent hip hop record to debut at #1 on the Billboard charts since Tha Dogg Pound's Dogg Food. No small feat, but Mac Miller is apparently not one to rest on his laurels. He's been prolific, releasing multiple mixtapes since Blue Slide Park, including an interesting foray into Jazz music under the pseudonym Larry Lovestein. Now, he's releasing the follow up to his debut record on June 18th, the same day J. Cole is dropping Born Sinner and Kanye West is unleashing Yeezus.
Much of the hate that Mac Miller receives is because he is so damn popular. The subtext is because suburban white kids love his music, and they control most of the buying power for media. But on June 18th, Mac Miller is suddenly the dark horse. Yeezus is an eclipse of a record, gathering almost Daft Punk levels of hype, and Born Sinner is no slouch either in terms of buzz. Each record looks to be very distinct, and one look at each of the album covers confirms this*. Yeezus is all high art and ego. Born Sinner plays directly to J. Cole's dark/light aesthetic. Watching Movies With the Sound Off? Let's just say it's a bit irreverent, poking fun at the seriousness of Kanye's more recent releases.
That's why I enjoy Mac Miller, he's not overly serious. He has fun. In today's era of irony, people are too easily written off as naive. Isn't there something glorious about being young and stupid? Rapping about Hennessy, sneakers, and skipping class might not be high art, but it's fun as fuck to listen to. These songs are from two of Mac Miller's earlier mixtapes, and they embody why everyone should have their weekly dose of Mac Miller. The simplicity helps cleanse us of the intensity of everyday life.
"Best Day Ever" is an intro, but it's also a fantastic song in its own right. It's message is simple, and it's delivered in the best possible way. I used to play this song in the morning when I woke up, and every once in a while I still do. It's one of those life-affirming things that, once we stop caring about what's trite and what's hip, is something everyone can relate to.
"Nikes on My Feet" was the first song I listened to by Mac Miller. I was immediately hooked, and not just because I related to Miller's obsession with a certain Swoosh symbol. The beat is simple boom bap with a sublimely fuzzy keyboard melody tying everything together, creating a perfect crossover sound that gives just enough of a nod to the old school sound that helped inspire the track.
Since these two songs, Mac Miller has experimented with many different styles. He's continuing to grow, which is what makes him so exciting. June 18th will be a great day for music, and a lesson in the longevity of a hip hop artist. Kanye has continued to grow throughout his career, but J. Cole's debut record was underwhelming at best, because it was more of a step back than a step forward. It remains to be seen where Mac Miller lands on this spectrum. Judging by his album cover, I don't think he much cares, and that's why I'll be listening to Watching Movies With the Sound Off on June 18th.
"Best Day Ever"
"Nikes on My Feet"
*Yep, I'm judging a book by its cover. Who said looks aren't everything?