Watching Movies With the Sound Off

There's a startling moment near the end of Mac Miller's ambitious second LP where all the playful boasts and wobbly beats seem to catch up with him, and he suddenly sounds like an overtired kid: The music drops away, his voice catches, and he sobs, "[I] keep cryin' 'cause I still ain't over my bitch." (Granted, the previous two lines end "show you I'm rich" and "show me your tits.") Miller – who already boasts a Number One debut and an MTV2 show chronicling his daily life – often raps like he's juggling, keeping aloft key themes (new fame, adolescent insecurity, blow jobs) while delivering lots of self-deprecating patter. On Watching Movies, he tosses in a chain saw: punch-drunk slow-and-arty beats he produced with Diplo, Flying Lotus and his pal Earl Sweatshirt. The often mesmerizing production may be a crafty way of distancing himself from Cheesy Mac, the party rapper responsible for the irresistible bro-down "Donald Trump." Having fully absorbed Eminem, Miller wants to experiment with hipper stuff: pitch-shifted hooks and rap-nerd picks like Action Bronson and Jay Electronica (who get guest verses). There's no new "Trump," but the horn-spiked "Goosebumpz" brings a whole different ruckus and one of Miller's best punch lines: "When I die, bet she fuck my hologram." Hologram status is a long way off. But he'll settle for you believing he's for real.

From The Archives Issue 1186: July 4, 2013
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