Photo by Mac Miller Facebook
BY PARKER KLYN
This is not the same Mac Miller you’re used to. The Mac Miller of albums like Blue Slide Park, which was overwhelmingly boring and bland, and Watching Movies With The Sound Off, which saw Miller overstep his artistic talents, is gone.
No, this Mac Miller is one obsessed with women and love, letting that obsession engulf his music and attitude toward life. And shockingly, it’s a huge artistic leap from his previous efforts. For the first time in his career, I can genuinely say that Mac Miller made a pretty good album.
The Divine Feminine is an apt name for a record like this, one that has song titles like “Soulmate,” “We” and “Skin.”
Every song on this project is a love song. Throughout it, Miller manages to come with enough earnest excitement and self-awareness that he doesn’t come off as unbearable like he has in the past.
The lead single, “Dang!” featuring Anderson .Paak, is Miller’s best song yet. Like everything .Paak touches, the single is golden.
The beat is jazzy and danceable with beautiful trumpet flourishes and synth pulses that sound like an excitedly beating heart. Like most songs on this record, Miller isn’t the highlight of the song, but he has enough self-restraint to allow the beat and .Paak’s chorus to shine through.
Most tracks on The Divine Feminine play out this way. Miller is still one of the least talented rappers in the game right now–there is little conviction to his voice and he’s never been a deep lyricist. But with every new project, he’s become impeccably more tasteful with the sheer musicality of his songs.
Album highlight “Skin” is a great example of that artistry. Instead of trying to force himself on the listener, Miller allows his voice to move with the ebb and flow of the brassy beat.
The track is really sexy; a bona fide slow jam. It ends with a fantastic saxophone solo that could have been lifted straight out of a mid-eighties Kenny G record.
I still wouldn’t call the record great. Again, Miller is a weak vocalist with little charisma. He puts on these vocal affectations that sound nothing like his real voice in attempt to sound more soulful (read: urban), and they come off as dangerously close to cultural appropriation.
He also sings far too often for somebody who’s a legitimately bad singer. It’s night and day between him and Ariana Grande on “My Favorite Part” in terms of vocal talent, conviction, and overall enjoy ability. Miller seems to be most comfortable in that space between singing and rapping, where the words flow like hip-hop but have melody.
The lyrics are nothing to write home about either. Because the album consists exclusively of love songs, there is little lyrical variety–not a good thing when the MC is Miller, who couldn’t write an interesting verse if he tried. Luckily, the music is beautiful, making this an album perfectly suited to relaxation and vibing out.
The Divine Feminine closes with a story of an older woman talking about meeting her true love later in life after she already has a daughter. The acceptance and pure joy she holds in her heart for her husband is truly moving. It’s the one genuinely fantastic moment on the record, and it at once made me grin while bringing me to tears.
I love that Miller ended a record, which was sometimes graphic in its descriptions of love, with something so pure because I believe that no matter who you are, that’s all you really want out of love. Similarly, The Divine Feminine is an album that anyone can get into.