Mac Miller – Watching Movies With the Sound Off
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Record Label: Rostrum Records
From the moment he stepped into the limelight, many people wrote off Mac Miller. How could you not? Here you have a goofy, cheesy white rapper with almost zero originality and an inability to say anything remotely interesting. His debut album Blue Slide Park was painfully vanilla, and his mixtapes are more of the same. Despite this, he has built up a loyal and ever expanding fan base that genuinely loves what he does. Blue Slide Park debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200, becoming the first independent hip-hop album to do so since Tha Dogg Pound's Dogg Food in 1995. As such, he gained the attention of a lot of people in the industry, and on his new album Watching Movies With the Sound Off, his new connections are the best thing he has going for him.
That's not to say Mac hasn't made some considerable strides in his rapping ability. The improvement here is exceedingly clear, and the (almost) title track exemplifies it the best. The best part of “Wacthing Movies” is undoubtedly the dark and eerie beat (produced by Miller himself), but Mac's spitting here is the best we've ever seen it. He's fast, witty, and unafraid to switch up his flow out of the blue. He's always had some good production here and there throughout his other projects, but this is the first time it sounds like he knows how to compliment the beat to make it a good song all around.
Ultimately, though, the best parts of Watching Movies With the Sound Off come when there is someone else there to outshine him. The lead single "S.D.S" is a great song, but Mac Miller's rapping is completely overshadowed by the Flying Lotus produced beat, and Miller becomes something of an afterthought. When pinned up against the guest rappers, Mac Miller is also easily overlooked. “Red Dot Music” is an album standout, but only reaches that status because of a stunning verse from Action Bronson. Likewise, on “Matches,” Ab-Soul steals the show as does Earl Sweatshirt on “I'm Not Real.” Not to mention the seemingly random but nonetheless captivating verse from Jay Electronica on “Suplexes Inside of Complexes and Duplexes.” It becomes a problem when the reason songs are getting replayed is for the guest verses, and this is the biggest downfall of the album.
When left to his own devices, the results of Mac Miller's output range from pretty good to pretty bad. He tries some new things here, most notably on “Objects In the Mirror” and “Youforia,” where he does nothing but sing for the duration of each track. Mac Miller is not a good singer; his voice is as monotonous while singing as it is while rapping, but he deserves credit for giving it a shot. “Objects In the Mirror” is mostly inoffensive and decent enough, but “Youforia” is a very frustrating moment on the album. It's the last track, it features a very atmospheric Clams Casino beat, and if he could've snuck a little bit of rapping in there somewhere it would be a lot better. Unfortunately, all he does is sing and it quickly becomes a boring track that feels like a waste of an otherwise stellar beat. But like I said, he's trying something new here, and even though he misses the mark, it's a commendable effort.
The difference between Blue Slide Park and Watching Movies With the Sound Off is night and day. I can't see any reason for a Mac Miller fan to return to that album after listening to this, and that says a lot considering how many devoted fans really reacted to Blue Slide Park. And while we can endlessly gush over the improvements he has made, it shouldn't be ignored that he has a long way to go before becoming a truly good artist. Watching Movies With The Sound Off is a necessary step that is going to get him there, but it isn't a strong enough statement to make that case for him.