Reviews

Mac Miller Lusts for Love on 'The Divine Feminine'



XL

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Mac Miller has worn a few different hats throughout his many years in the game. When the Pittsburgh native first introduced himself to fans around 2007, he was a friendly pot-smoking rhymer. From there, he’s shown he’s a mellowed-out producer, an experimenter in psychedelics, a spiritual rhymeslinger, a sober optimist and now the hat he chooses to bare is that of a hopeless romantic shown on his fourth studio release, The Divine Feminine.

The album is a collection of 10 love-oriented tracks that aim to cherish the fairer sex with a medley of spoken words, rhymes and singing — lots and lots of singing. Luckily, part of Mac’s musical development has been the maturity of his singing voice along with the sophistication of his raps. Both these components get wrapped into one tight package and are woven throughout a polished arrangement of beats that will bode well on any late-night playlist.

The beauty of this particular album is its incredible truthfulness to Mac’s already storied passionate narrative. Making a “love” album can often times come off as corny, especially coming from a rapper who has never shied away from using inherently misogynistic terms but the thoughts and feelings translate as genuine. “Congratulations” with Bilal sets the romantic tone off right not only with gushy lines like “And you too divine to just be mine/You remind me of the color blue/Girl I’m so in love with you, yeah/Girl I’m so in love with you” but with the overhaul of delicate piano and enchanted violins providing the backdrop. Before things get overly classically lovey dovey, Mac’s concluding verse reminds us that he too is a millennial that has a more contemporary view of love. Mentions of “shared laundry hampers” and “kale breakfasts” are what give tracks on this album the modern refurbishment it needs.

“Dang!” with Anderson .Paak was released earlier this year but still serves as the album’s best and most likely to succeed past the summer song. After that uptempo shot of love funk, Mac goes for a ballad. If director James Cameron was to make a 2016 hip-hop remake to Titanic then there is no doubt that “Cinderella” with Ty Dolla $ign would be the movie’s leading song but instead of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet hanging over the hull of ship it would be Mac and newly confirmed girlfriend Ariana Grande.

In fact, there are possibly many songs on this album that could pertain to Mac’s latest love interest but none more obvious than their actual collab, “My Favorite Part.” Couples cutting tracks together has the potential of crossing into cliché territory but the duo keep it classy. In fact, it is Ariana that steals the show as she puts the pop princess vibe on ice and channels a strong, authentic R&B sound.

What is ultimately expected and duly noted on The Divine Feminine is Mac’s creativity. Almost every song sounds distinctly different from one another and most importantly, from anything he has done before. “Planet God Damn” carries a very natural vibe as Vinylz, Frank Dukes and Aja Grant produce a beat fit for a deep rainforest retreat while featured vocalist Njomza sounds like Mother Nature herself. “Soulmate” carries a funky hallucinogenic tone, which he produced himself, with very meta posed questions such as “Yeah, when are you coming through to free my mind?” and “I think you’re too divine for my human mind/When I’m with you, what do you do”?

Kendrick Lamar even gets a little dangerously love drunk on the chorus of “God Is Fair, Sexy Nasty,” on which he croons, “Sexy, nasty, have no guideline,” in a strangely seductive way never really heard before. Regardless, it works itself out perfectly and makes for an uninhibited album climax.

The prolonged outros and extensive sonic bridges may not sit well with some but others may appreciate the effort put in to the overall creative vibe. The album’s run time is still roughly an hour even though the track list is only 10 songs long — which is somewhat understood as Mac was clearly trying to capture a certain mood that couldn’t necessarily be bottled up in a 25-minute project. All in all, The Divine Feminine is an experiment well done. Mac Miller’s creative mind explores the ins and outs of the modern relationship while maintaining a certain level of sophistication that can be considered timeless.

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Author: Scott Glaysher

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