Mac Miller is the rapper to beat in the competition for Asher Roth Of The Year. Just like Roth, he's a Pennsylvania native being pushed as the next big thing in the world of white rappers: he's even secured a co-sign from the powers that be on MTV, who have been promoting him fairly heavily for the past few weeks or so. Like Roth before him, he's secured a loyal fanbase in the mixtape circuit, unleashing track after track in an attempt to carve out a place for himself in our chosen genre. And like Roth, he elected to use unknown producers on his debut full-length project, which is also stupidly titled, except instead of going full retarded with Asleep In The Bread Aisle as his predecessor did, Miller went with Blue Slide Park, which sounds just a tiny bit better.
The comparisons with Asher Roth, who was supposed to be the next Eminem or some shit before he released his debut and the industry realized that nobody gave a fuck about him, pretty much end there, though. Asleep In The Bread Aisle was full of guest appearances from bigger-name artists in an effort to trick the consumer into buying it, I guess, but Blue Slide Park is a guest-free affair, as the artist also known as Malcolm McCormick handles all sixteen tracks for dolo. Blue Slide Park has been positioned to blow the fuck up on other hip hop blogs, mainly because Mac Miller is really fucking smart and knows how to market himself, but it remains to be seen whether he can captivate a large audience using only his words and his hard-partying lifestyle. (The fact that he's signed to an indie label, Rostrum Records, may also be a factor in his potential for sales.)
I had actually never heard of the guy until this year, when his single "Donald Trump" started getting regular spins on the radio, although I kept changing the channel whenever I saw the title pop up, as I thought it was another dumbass song from the likes of Gucci Mane or Waka Flocka Flame, so that doesn't really count for anything. (Thankfully, that song doesn't appear on Blue Slide Park, so I get to continue my winning streak of not having heard it!)
Mac Miller actually gained my attention when "Face The Facts", a collaboration with the honorable DJ Premier, hit the other blogs: even though I didn't think of it as all that great, I was still shocked that this dude was able to secure a beat from one of the best producers in the game. (For some reason, I had completely blanked on the fact that Primo likes to give his beats to sub-par rappers.) I figured that this was just a calculated move to get older hip hop heads to pay attention to Mac Miller off of the strength of Primo's name alone, but I later discovered that "Face The Facts" wasn't ever even intended for his debut, Blue Slide Park. Who in the fuck would take a Primo beat and leave it on a fucking mixtape, in favor of releasing a debut full of no-name production?
Mac Miller, that's who. Now let's see if he's just fucking insane or if that was a brilliant business move. (SPOILER ALERT: It wasn't.)
1. ENGLISH LANE
Essentially a rap album intro featuring some sing-rapping from our host. And yes, it sounds just as atrocious as it reads. Is this really how Mac Miller thought this shit should start? Because he was dead wrong.
2. BLUE SLIDE PARK
Ah, so it's going to be like this, huh? Mac gets the title track out of the way fairly quickly, delivering two verses over the I.D. Labs not-terrible instrumental, but although one of his bars made me smirk (specifically the one where he talks about how, if you're talking shit, you'll just cause him to smirk, oddly enough), I found the rest of this sort of awkward to listen to, and not just because the word "motherfucker" sounds completely foreign coming out of his mouth. Mac's flow is alright enough, but he sounded like he was trying way too hard to impress the audience on here. Thoughts?
3. PARTY ON FIFTH AVE.
I.D. Labs samples DJ Mark the 45 King's "The 900 Number" (or, for younger readers, DJ Kool's "Let Me Clear My Throat", or, for older music video obsessives, the song Ed Lover used to do his dance to) in a much different manner than I had ever heard before, so that should count for something. Mac Miller takes it back to an old-school feel, in that this entire song is all about partying and attempting to get to said party. I've heard worse: although I don't see "Party On Fifth Ave." blowing up in clubs or on regular radio rotation, I still didn't find anything overly offensive about it. Still waiting to see what the big deal is with this guy, though.
4. PA NIGHTS
Considering that he hasn't even really blown the fuck up yet, I spent the entirety of this track hearing Mac Miller brag about all the useless shit he's purchased and wondering is he has already hired a financial adviser or if he has already set up a 401(K) or if he has a backup to resort to in case this particular career path fizzles out. To be fair, at one point he does question if it's wrong for him to be spending that kind of cash, but that moment of self-reflection lasts for only about two seconds. I realize that success in hip hop is dependent on how the audience perceives you, but when you brag about material possessions this early on, all I envision are maxed-out credit cards and a foreclosed-upon McMansion.
5. FRICK PARK MARKET
One thing I've noticed about all the songs on Blue Slide Park thus far is that they've only lasted for the length of two verses. I feel this is a plus: there's never really been a need for a solo artist to devote three verses to every single song they record, because inevitably they start turning to unrelated freestyles to pad the running time, thereby fucking up any semblance to theme. Not that there is much of a theme to "Frick Park Market", a track that isn't bad, even as it personally invites college kids to drunkenly recite the chorus at random intervals. The brief instrumental interlude at the end was a nice touch, though.
6. SMILE BACK
Mac Miller confronts his haters in the cheesiest and probably most effective way possible: by simply smiling back at them and keeping it moving. "Smile Back" is essentially the equivalent of me writing "Thanks for reading!" after a particularly nasty comment, except set to a worse soundtrack: I.D. Labs lends a beat that leaves a lot to be desired, as it aims for Southern comfort and ultimately ends up having no footing in actual reality. For his part, Malcolm sounded okay, though.
7. UNDER THE WEATHER
The fuck was this shit? Just who is this supposed to be for?
8. OF THE SOUL
I was actually okay with this song, though. The title is a clever nod to De La Soul, who are also the recipient of multiple name-drops during the hook: the best that could come of Blue Slide Park is if at least one person who picks this album up also wonders what all of this De La love is about and picks up 3 Feet High & Rising. Mac Miller matches the relaxed flow of the instrumental with three decent verses (wait, we're back to recording three-verse songs now? Shit!) that sound more tolerable than usual.
9. MY TEAM
It is kind of weird that Mac would title a song "My Team" and not have it be a posse cut filled with his below-average weed carriers, right? Aside from the asinine chorus, that seems to exist solely to justify the title of this song, this was actually one of the better tracks I've heard on Blue Slide Park thus far, thanks to Clams Casino's instrumental (finally, a different producer!) and our host's for-some-reason-it-now-sounds-accomplished flow, which adopts a Jay-Z "On To The Next One"-esque handle at one point. Short and sweet: chop the chorus off and this track would have been a complete winner.
10. UP ALL NIGHT
This straight-up horseshit will probably become Mac Miller's biggest hit record, as his love for partying and his passion for public drunkenness come to a head on this anthem dedicated to having fun all night because "I ain't got shit to do tomorrow". The beat sounds like a combination of the crappy pop bands dominating radio stations today (for some reason, the name Hot Chelle Rae comes to mind, because they're fucking terrible) and Andre 3000's The Love Below leftovers, which is a mash-up that, surprise surprise, doesn't work. Mac Miller sounds game enough to have fun with it, but the end result is slight, even though its singalong hook will be all over frat house parties for years to come. So, in a way, he succeeded, I guess.
Probably the best song on Blue Slide Park period. I.D. Labs teams up with The Pack's Young L for an instrumental that is simple, loud, and effective, and Mac adapts beautifully, delivering two of the most confident verses on the entire project. It helps that he's enjoying himself in the booth and that the drums are hard as fuck. Someone else needs to steal this instrumental immediately.
12. HOLE IN MY POCKET
An unnecessary instrumental interlude that comes from out of the blue? Don't mind if I do!
13. DIAMONDS & GOLD
I once had a dream where I was eating lunch in a tiny French cafe with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. He could barely fit in his chair and was abnormally focused on the bread we were sharing: he kept wondering where the waitress was so we could request more. In between sips of coffee that tasted of pickles, I conducted a mostly one-sided conversation regarding my career: I had, apparently, recently been passed up for a supervisory position in my anonymous workplace and was considering switching gears and becoming an assassin for hire. Stay Puft couldn't have been more supportive of my decision: after stealing the bread from several nearby tables, we left the cafe on the way to stake out my first victim, an out-of-work circus clown who had recently stolen the left kidney from a local mafioso's son's girlfriend's cousin's out-of-work circus clown. Then something exploded, and I think that Gob from Arrested Development was there. Not Will Arnett: I mean Gob. When I woke up, I decided that I fucking hated this song.
14. MISSED CALLS
I'm not a fan of when artists deliberately aim for the pop charts, which is undoubtedly what Malcolm and producer Ritz Reynolds were trying to do on here. It just sounds desperate. Also, it repels the audience you already have. Moving on...
15. MAN IN THE HAT
There isn't anything revolutionary on here, especially during the second verse, where entire words are replaced with what sounds like stuttering grunts. There's also no hat involved, so Mac Miller is a goddamn liar.
16. ONE LAST THING
Thanks to the faux-ethereal, experimental production of Clams Casino, this final track on Blue Slide Park is what Drake would sound like if he had an actual vagina. I can't take this anymore.
THE LAST WORD: First off, my apologies: I think it's beyond obvious that I grew bored of this album during the last set of songs, and the writing suffered more than a little bit. But the blame should be shared with the artist for releasing such a dull project. I tend to joke around a lot about feeling old, usually when I'm discussing an album that dropped several years ago, but Mac Miller's Blue Slide Park is the first one that really made me feel ancient, as the majority of this debut didn't even sound like hip hop: most of this was fucking noise. Mac Miller seems genial enough, and I'm sure he's a cool guy in real life, but as a rapper, his ability to string together bars in a rhyming fashion shouldn't be mistaken for anything resembling actual skill. I give the man credit for refusing to alter his own style in order to fit into the current hip hop climate, and he will legitimately earn a ton of fans off of that alone. But I'm not convinced: hell, I wouldn't even personally claim him for our chosen genre. Older heads won't give a fuck and aren't even still reading this shit (leaving DJ Premier off of your tracklisting pretty much seals that fate), but you younger fans need to know that, while Mac Miller shouldn't be counted out entirely, this album isn't very good. By which I mean that this wasn't entertaining. Take that however you wish.