There’s a trend in rap nowadays that features rappers that out-rap the beat. Listening to these songs feels like holding dynamite that’s about to blow up. Or suicide, murder, or something equally sinister. Sometimes you don’t understand what they’re saying , but it’s not trash. It’s rap, and a lot of other things. There’s a lot of anger in there and it translates to the way they rap to what they talk about. $uicideboys, Waka Flock Flame (just look at his name), old Odd Future, and Denzel Curry to name a few, are some projects that have this kind of intense sound.
Pick one: the imagery of the lyrics, the off-putting beat that sends shivers down your spine, the striking visuals. You know these guys are mad as fuck about something for real. They have an agenda. It’s music that you might want to play in the background when you’re engaging in a fistfight, or more realistically, when you’re doing a Michael Phelps and you’re preparing for a competition. (Phelps was listening to Future’s Stick Talk, which is most definitely a song that gives you hype.)
Most of the artists I mentioned don’t subscribe to this genre, but horrorcore, a sub genre of hip hop, has the same vibe I was talking about. Delusional Thomas, a mixtape by Mac Miller and also a name for one his various aliases, is listed as a horrorcore album. Featuring high-pitched vocals over lulled, dreary synths and drums, it’s a project that I didn’t love at first but I respected, especially coming from Mac, who I first heard in “Donald Trump.”
Then came his other projects, all of which I’ve listened to and still listen to, and which also features an evolution of his sound: Watching Movies With The Sound Off explores his druggy side (as well as his singing side), Faces even more so on the drug-addled wordplay, like the feeling that you’re in another planet and that planet is a dark place, and his last, GO:OD AM, is not just a trip out of that dark place but a journey outwards to somewhere brighter, and better.
Mac Miller’s musical journey is as wide and as long a road for a person who’s only 24. Mac Miller’s latest album, The Divine Feminine, feels like he’s uplifted. He’s rapping about sex and pussy but he’s not angry at it or objectifying it. In fact it’s like he’s worshipping it, or the person he’s making love to. As Pitchfork points out, Mac Meezy isn’t trying to speak about feminism in a faux attempt at wokeness. He’s serious about how intimate he gets. “Getting into this was really refreshing because I was writing about something bigger than myself for a change,” says Mac in an interview with Pigeons and Planes.He’s talking about positivity. He’s talking about good vibes. And he’s talking about love.
Mac is in love, after all. Ariana Grande confirmed their relationship on Ellen a while back, and it feels all too real when you watch them flirt on cam in “The Way.” Ariana Grande is featured in the album a lot, naturally. “My Favorite Part,” which features Ariana, is a lovey-dovey track that makes me kilig. It’s a language I understand, a straightforward but sensitive language that comes out as real as much as it is blunt. And the whole album are full of cheesy tracks that allude, or just straight up talk about sex. At the same time Mac Miller opens his vulnerabilities to the object of his affections. In “Skin” Mac Miller goes vivid about making love (Gonna fuck you, put you on the wall/All I wanna do is show you off, I want to put you on) and then takes a swift turn to emotional vulnerability, all in the same verse (Can I have a hand to hold?/A Band-Aid for my damaged soul, I paint the planet gold.) He’s not giving disrespect to the persona/s he’s talking about. He doesn’t hide behind braggadochio lyrics. Mac Miller’s bearing his soul but he’s making it cool. Imagine bumping this with your bros in the car. Are you going to sing along? I feel like I am.
“I’m trying to cuddle the world after sex, not keep the Uber running and dip out.”
In an interview with Zane Low, Mac Miller describes the album in a cliche, calling it it “the universe.” “Treating the world how you’re supposed to treat a female is awesome,” he continues. “The more you make love to it and the less you try to fuck it, the better it all becomes for you. It’s a deeper experience with life. I’m trying to cuddle the world after sex, not keep the Uber running and dip out.” That last line fucking gets me. There’s a different vibe going on with the hip hop scene that stands in opposition to the motor mouth angry; a vibe of contemplation, vulenerability, and just generally good vibes, from the likes The Internet, Kaytranada, Isaiah Rashad, SiR. Mac Miller has done both, and for that I respect him for being a flexible artist that’s conceptualized his albums very well. I also thank him because in a way his journey through his music mirrors mine, and probably a lot of other people feel the same way. People have a tendency to amplify lyrics from songs to encapsulate their emotional state, and for me it’s from “We,” which continues a string of words that start a statement, then trail off. “Baby you can be my/Baby you can be my…” it goes. I just wish I had Cee-lo Green to say “You gotta deal with Mac Miller, bitch,” with a laugh at the end, but with my name.