July 28, 2013
Record Reactions: Mac Miller – Watching Movies With The Sound Off
Welcome to Record Reactions, where I share my thoughts on a new release from the worlds of popular and independent music. Today’s record is Watching Movies with the Sound Off, the new one by popular rapper Mac Miller.
I always liked Mac Miller. Ever since his first release, the mixtape K.I.D.S., he had my support. But over the past few years, his stock had begun to drop. He started putting out weaker releases in degrading quality, culminating with his debut full-length Blue Slide Park, which was honored with a 1/10 by Pitchfork Media. His stoner raps, once charming and entertaining, were saddled by lazy delivery and an obvious lack of content. He looked to be content just to party the days away, even as his music declined. Many had given up on the kid from Philadelphia. We all wrote off Mac Miller.
And that’s why, when more and more information began to leak from Watching Movies, it seemed like an impossible dream. How could this kid with no obvious special talents bring together a collection of collaborators this incredible?
Regardless of how it came together, and how hard it is to believe, Watching Movies With The Sound Off is a real album. Mac Miller has proved with this release that those chops he showed with his first mixtape weren’t all smoke and mirrors. The kid can rap, and more importantly, he has a great ear.
On I’m Not Real, Miller and friend Earl Sweatshirt bounce around with pitched-down vocals. It creates a very serious effect; it’s more somber than anything Miller has put out to date. Oh, and Earl with his new deep voice sounds almost exactly like Tyler, The Creator. On S.D.S., Mac puts in a great performance over a jittering Flying Lotus beat – there’s plenty of stupidity here, but there’s also a tight, expressive flow. It’s simply entertaining, but not like a guilty pleasure. Matches, featuring Ab-Soul grooves with an ecstatic bounce, just like any great hip-hop anthem. And Aquarium, which is produced by Mac himself, features two of his best verses ever.
The variety and energy throughout this record keep it endlessly buoyant. This carries the album through its weaker moments, like the ignorant aspects of Bird Call and Gees. Watching Movies is 16 songs long but, unlike J. Cole’s Born Sinner, it doesn’t feel like it the entire time.
Mac Miller is experimenting with pitch shifting. He’s extended his flow and his lyrical content to match the conscious hip-hop scene. He’s hanging out with some of the most revered names in underground rap. And he’s mixing everything together through his unique and innocent focus. Childish punch lines and subject matter still abound, but it’s a good thing that they do. Mac Miller isn’t a different person. He’s just improved beyond our wildest dreams.
Many credit a move to Los Angeles, and a subsequent change in musical influence, for this exponential improvement. But I like to think that Mac Miller always had it in him. He just needed the right set of circumstances, collaborators, and inspiration to create something great. And with Watching Movies, Mac Miller has stayed within himself, but also matured. And he has exceeded everyone’s expectations.
Favorite Tracks: Someone Like You, Aquarium
Least Favorite Track: Gees
Remember these reviews are just my opinion, and that little number up there doesn’t mean much! Have you heard this album? What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with me? If you would like to let me know your opinion, you can hit me up on my email, or tweet at me @RobinCopple1. I am dying to know what you think! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on the flipside! Stay tuned.
Image Credit: Mac Miller / Rostrum Records