#7 Album of The Year: Mac Miller- Watching Movies With The Sound Off

Posted: December 30, 2013 by ericbernsen in Album Reviews, Music
Tags: , , ,

Witnessing the artistic growth of Mac Miller has been one of the more intriguing spectacles in hip-hop this year. Mac reached stardom in the eyes of the young generation early in his career/life with hits like “Donald Trump” and “Nikes On My Feet”, but hip-hop purists bashed his quirky style and the corniness of his lyrics. Nevertheless, Miller released his debut album Blue Side Park and it became the first independent hip-hop album to top the Billboard charts in nearly 20 years. Despite the support, artistically and critically the project was a flop and Mac took the negativity to heart as he developed a drug addiction to promethazine (codeine). As Miller worked to fight his addiction, his music started to undergo a transformation as his mixtape Macadelic was filled with psychedelic influences, and lyrically there were strong signs of improvement (“Thoughts From A Balcony”) from the Pittsburgh emcee.  Once Miller moved to LA and started becoming friendly with the talented rappers from Odd Future and TDE, he found his own voice and new musical sound with the end result being this album titled Watching Movies With The Sound Off.

Mac fully embraces himself as a philosophizing space cadet on this project turning in whichever way he pleases as the album’s executive producer under the alias name Larry Fisherman. The “Easy Mac with the Cheesy Raps” are long gone and rhymes filled with self-deprecating wit and contemplation on mortality with drug-infused, heaven vs. hell qualities come swooping in. Ironically enough, in this daze of cloud-rap Miller manages to capture a clear sense of his artistic identity while maintaining his sense of humor within his still animated lyrics. Mac takes the reins on the project’s lead singles “S.D.S.” and “Watching Movies” and lyrically blacks proving to himself and the listeners that he does not need clear-cut radio songs to show his worth as an emcee.

Nevertheless, Miller does not stick himself in a smoked-out box of dope rhymes and extends himself as an artist on the project, effectively embracing his vocals without any fear of backlash. The song that represents this notion the best is “Objects In The Mirror”, an emotionally moving song that showcases Mac singing metaphorically about his previous lean addiction, pouring his heart out to the drug as it was the love of his life. Miller’s experimental R&B style tracks reach a climax toward the end of the album and while some might say he goes a little too far off the deep end, his introspective honesty is at its highest point on these songs.

While Miller deserves to be praised for his musicality on WMWTSO, his industry networking skills that come to fruition on these tracks is what pushes it over the edge as a complete body of work. Production wise, Mac recruits some of the best veterans in hip-hop such as Flying Lotus, Pharrell, and The Alchemist who all sprinkle their sonic magic on the aforementioned singles as well “Red Dot Music”, a track that features Miller and Queens favorite Action Bronson as an ideal pairing each riding the nodding beat with expertise. Along with Bronson, Mac invites all his talented rap friends to his party as WMWTSO features “a murder’s row of new school misfits” the likes of which includes Ab Soul, ScHoolboy Q, Earl Sweatshirt and Jay Electronica. The fact that Miller was able to bring out the in-hiding Electronica to spit a verse about The Wizard Of Oz on a groovy track called “Suplexes Insides of Complexes and Duplexes” is a ridiculous achievement within itself. Regardless, Miller spits with precision alongside these great emcees and never sounds outmatched or out of his natural element.

Whether Miller is rapping really well for the hell of it on songs like “Gees” or profoundly searching for life’s greater meaning on tracks like “I Am Who I Am”, Watching Movies With The Sound Of is an extremely focused project that is beyond the realm of anything Miller has previously released. Despite the variety of styles on display, the proper sequencing of the album gives it a strong sense of cohesiveness. The all-around outstanding production gives Miller the perfect platform to make this giant leap as an artist. Rather than drown in drugs or depression in attempt to face the public perception of his work, the young Mac Miller proved his credibility through this creative and well-executed album. Feel free to continue judging Mac Miller as the goofy white rapper from Pittsburgh…Mac is leaps and bounds beyond that notion as he is now making music worthy of respect and accolades.

Listen to Watching Movies With The Sound Off below and let us know what you think!


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