22 June, 2013@8:22 am
Released on the same day as Kanye West’s Yeezus and J. Cole’s Born Sinner, Mac Miller’s second studio album, Watching Movies With The Sound Off seems like almost an afterthought. But instead, it acts more like a balm. While Kanye and Cole’s releases have a darker, hopeless feel, Mac Miller comes off almost enlightened.
Listen to “YouForia,” a lush, almost 80s-style ballad with Mac singing, “when you look in my eyes, the pain goes away.” Or “Someone Like You,” an introspective, honest look inside Mac’s addiction issues:
“That fentanyl it numb me/Beautiful it get ugly/Turn you into a junkie/Still searching for something, but I don’t know what … F***ed up, I can’t feel myself/Work hard might kill myself/Exist through audio, but all my problems that’s real as hell.”
Not that Mac is in danger of becoming some kind of feminist, or a great MC for that matter. There’s still plenty of macho, juvenile crass talk (“Gees” featuring Schoolboy Q), but there’s at least a humility behind it. He’s not claiming to be God or even a legend. He’s just a somewhat drug-addled rhymer out of Pittsburgh.
There is some heavyweight production on Watching Movies. Alchemist produces “Red Dot Music” featuring Action Bronson, using keys and some warped singing to create a well-fitted backdrop for the two MCs, with the chorus explaining, “it must be the drugs that got us thinking crazy s**t.”
Pharrell gives Mac another laid back love track on “Objects in the Mirror” and a hook: “Just a little taste and you know she got you.” The song also finds Mac delivering some of his darker lines:
“Please give me the chance to go and live again/I’m having some trouble can you give a hand/It seems perfection really is unattainable/Don’t even say you about to end it all.”
Much of Watching Movies is also self-produced effectively enough. “Aquarium” has Mac searching for a greater truth (“Is what we do really important in the grand scheme of things?”), “Remember” is a mournful elegy for a lost friend (“You had a girl, I kinda wish you knocked her up/So I could meet your son and talk you up”).
While this release certainly doesn’t have the power and innovation of Yeezus or the slick production and MCing skills of Born Sinner, it’s quieter and more thoughtful, less pretentious and hateful. These qualities certainly don’t make it better. But listening to it just feels like a bit of a relief.
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