Mac Miller: Rap's Unsung Hero
image from npr.org
To begin, let's take a moment of silence for EZ Mac with the cheesy raps. The young gun coming out of Pittsburgh, PA with nothing but a snapback and passion. We can never forget when that guy took the youth by storm in 2010 with the K.I.D.S mixtape and a sold out tour that went along with it. The Mac Miller t-shirts with the little kid with his thumb up being worn all around your middle or high school. You go on Datpiff and download Best Day Ever onto your IPod, the simpler days when Mac Miller ruled white suburbia and black kids who didn't want to admit it. Sure, his raps were corny. Sure, he was white. Sure, his fan base were young kids and frat boys who didn't know any better. But it takes a special kind of charisma to accomplish a sudden surge to prominence in the rap game, especially with little mainstream support, and Mac Miller did it.
It's evident that anyone who criticizes Mac Miller has not listened to his recent music. I can understand why they may still pay him no mind if they still believe that he's still rapping about smoking weed and eating yogurt. I get it. The only thing is, it's been 6 years since that time in his career. Macadelic in 2012, was the transition project from those simple, fun raps to the real lyricist that Mac Miller is today. The question now is why is Mac still being overlooked as one of the best artists out ? With undeniable talent like his and the complexity of his music, Mac Miller deserves as much recognition as a J Cole.
Let's start with Macadelic, Mac's 2012 mixtape release before his second album Watching Movies with the Sound Off. This mixtape set the tone for the rest of Mac's career and is one of the best projects in his catalog. What makes it so great is its newly found creativity and authentic sound. Out of nowhere, Mac takes us through this journey of drug addiction, thoughts, and emotions that expresses himself in a way that no one would even imagine he was capable of producing. The despair filled tracks like "Fight the Feeling" and "Clarity" confirmed Mac's onset of constructing music that is not only sonically pleasing, but also emotion striking in nature that artists like Kendrick Lamar (who is actually featured in "Fight the Feeling") are praised for. Macadelic was Mac's beginning of embracing abstract qualities in his lyrics along with embracing himself as an artist and he did it in such an exceptional way that it's hard to believe that he hasn't been recognized for it.
Then comes Watching Movies With the Sound Off, what should be considered Mac's real debut album (gotta lowkey shade Blue Slide Park on this one). Tracks one through sixteen continue Mac's discovery of himself but still pertaining to his listeners and maintaining his goofiness on songs like "SDS". The production on this album also extend on Mac's ability to flow on unconventional beats like "Watching Movies" and "OK" so effectively that it's hard to ignore that he not only has an ear for unique beats, but a skill to deliver on them as well. Mac's cleverness and conscious wordplay on this LP goes overlooked once again and it may be because of the competitive releases of Yeezus and Born Sinner that accompanied it on that day; along with the seemingly childish substance of the majority of Mac's music up to that point, especially the overwhelming simplicity of Blue Slide Park, was still a haunting factor to Mac's legitimacy as a rapper. These reasons may seem understandable but are completely invalid considering growth is an expectation for rappers, and it seems as though no one gave the Pittsburg rapper a chance. There's an immense amount of thought provoking lyricism that Mac presents to his listener whether it's metaphorical or jokingly and that is one of the special components that Mac has as a artist and in this album. "Aquarium" and "Objects In The Mirror" contain conceptual lyrics pertaining to existence and addiction increased Mac's value as one of the top lyricists out. Watching Movies With the Sound Off undoubtedly contained elements of wittiness and originality that should've been critically acclaimed for.
Faces, Good AM, and a honorable mention of Delusional Thomas are all projects that succeeded Mac's sophomore album and are all nothing short of great. Not only had Mac demonstrated growth and natural artistry, but also consistency which is an ability that few rappers have. On Faces we get an honest Mac who "did it all without a Drake feature"; adventuring through self-produced jazz beats, unique sounds and hooks that fit him perfectly. Delusional Thomas is Mac's weirdest project but exemplifies his unpredictable artistry and expansive imagination. He raps as his deranged alter ego on dark beats and voice manipulation capturing sinister vibes of an early Eminem. His third album Good AM exercised the more melodic, conventional side of Mac as we get 2-3 verses and a chorus on almost all the songs. It may be his most ordinary album but still produces all round solid music ranging with hype songs like "When in Rome" to engaging tracks like "The Festival".
As all great rappers should, Mac then reinvents himself with Divine Feminine, his fourth album; a R&B, soulful LP that again, no one thought Mac was capable of producing. Coming out in 2016, which was such a great year for rap, Divine Feminine did not get as much attention as it deserved for its ingenuity and theme. Even though it was experimental, Mac's crossing of multiple genres on this album delivered a well balanced composition of music that Chance's Coloring Book and Drake's Views were both recognized for, only difference is Mac didn't receive a Grammy nomination.
Mac Miller can play drums, guitar, bass, and piano. He can spit and has shown that he is an underrated producer from his producing of the majority of Faces and all of Stolen Youth, his collaboration mixtape with Vince Staples. He displays sustained creativity in his arsenal as a musician in which we experience first hand in his music. What else does Mac Miller have to do to prove that he is one of the most talented artists in rap today and how long will it take for him to be credited as one ? With the amount of wholesome, refreshing music that Mac has contributed to the genre his credit is long overdue, but until then he will continue to be a hidden gem and rap's unsung hero.
Written by Sophia Guerrier