At first I was suspicious of Mac Miller for two reasons. One, I’m, white. Two, I was born the same year MJ released Thriller. Those two factors mean that I, along with most of my generation, suffer from Post Traumatic Vanilla Ice Stress Disorder (PTVISD). It’s a condition in which the patient remains terrified of another white rapper blatantly cashing in on the culture, making us all guilty by association. PTVISD is why no one’s harder on white rappers than white hip-hop heads. But then I realized something; I’m old and the times, well, the …
DJBooth Album Review
But then I realized something; I’m old and the times, well, the times they are a-changin. For my niece, who in addition to being approximately Mac Miller’s age is my go to source for “what the kids are listening to,” the same boundaries we took to be concrete just don’t exist. She’s from the iPod generation, a generation in which there’s nothing particularly remarkable about listening to Bruno Mars, Eminem, Pitbull, Kanye and Katy Perry in a fifteen minute span. It’s a generation that’s found a champion in the form of Pittsburgh’s latest hip-hop hometown hero Mac Miller, who just like them likes hip-hop, weed, girls and isn’t as constrained by racial and music boundaries as us ‘80s babies. Considering the man’s already got a fan base dedicated enough to make Blue Slide Park number two on iTunes (before it even drops!) this feels like much more than just the release of Miller’s debut album, it feels like a sign of things to come.
Of course none of this would matter if the young man made wack music, and that’s the second realization that’s helped ease my initial suspicion of Mac; the kid knows his hip-hop and can rhyme. Just take lead single Frick Park Market, a blustering cut that finds Miller weaving in and out of the jittery beat with off-kilter flows and 2 Live Crew references (told you he knew his hip-hop history). While he lacks the vocal muscle to make banger Smile Back truly bang he still manages to pulls the track off, and he flashes signs of narrative ability on Diamonds and Gold and the relationship breakdown Missed Calls: “I guess people always goin through changes / did you think I would lose you once I got famous?” Is Mac literally the dopest emcee alive? No, but he’s far better than those hoping to easily dismiss him would like to believe, and even more importantly he excels at creating the kind of moods that engender fan loyalty much more strongly than the most intricate of wordplay.
Speaking of which, the late teens are a paradoxical time that finds teens simultaneously chasing adult sins while running from adult responsibilities, desperate for the future while also nostalgic for the simplicity of the past. Simply put, Blue Slide Park captures that time like few hip-hop albums have. (Frankly not that many rappers have tried.) Hell, the album’s named after one of Miller’s childhood parks, which later became a favorite stoner spot. That says it all right there. Actually, Blue Slide Park the track says it all: “I'm a regular guy within a regular life / Except I'm a Lamborghini if it's racin' a bike.” That blend of aggressive boasting and the reckless abandonment of partying runs throughout the album, gaining a rock edge on the up-tempo Up All Night and then mellowing for the made for-live-shows Man in the Hat. You know that breathless feeling you had when you ran from the cops after they broke up a house party? This album is that feeling in musical form.
So where do we go from here? Can Mac’s music continue to grow up alongside his fans? There are some indications that he does have a more deeply artistic vision. Blue Slide Park does include a purely cinematic instrumental in the form of Hole in the Pocket and ventures into experimental territory with the hazy and dark One Last Thing. But when you’re 19-years-old you’re not concerned about tomorrow. Tomorrow will inevitably come. When you’re 19 you’re simply trying to make the world notice that you’re alive, and after Blue Slide Park it’s going to become increasingly hard not to pay attention to Mac Miller. Even if you’re an almost 30-tear-old hip-hop head with PTVISD.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 11/7/11
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