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Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records

September 18, 2016

TEST SPIN: Mac Miller — The Divine Feminine

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This year has made it apparent that Mac Miller is trying to distance himself from Donald Trump in more ways than one. The combination of the chant he uses to get the crowd going when he performs —one of his old mainstays at concerts (“Fuck Donald Trump”) — and his new album’s tone — which is decidedly more Al Green than Beastie Boys — draws a line that he has been trying to mark out for years. Each of his albums has represented a drastic musical shift from those preceding it, and The Divine Feminine is no exception to that trend.

The album opens with “Congratulations,” which features both Mac and Bilal singing. If you haven’t heard Mac sing before, you should. The sound of the opener truly sets the tone for the rest of the album; it is fully orchestrated, replete with a piano intro and a string section, but conspicuously missing any percussion whatsoever. This is similar to “Doors” on Good AM, but as opposed to the one minute introduction of the previous album, Mac extends his singing into almost the whole four something minute song, save for a one minute rapped section. It’s worth noting that I had an hour long argument with a friend about what the song is actually about; she thought that it was a regretful ode to a failed relationship, whereas I was certain it had a more introspective bent, but we agreed that, either way, it’s beautiful in its own way.

The lead single off of the album, “Dang (feat. Anderson .Paak),” is shoehorned in between two of Mac’s musings on love and sex, and it frankly does not really fit in. It is an upbeat song that offers some great diet advice, but it is musically a very dramatic departure from the rest of the album. This too is not unusual for Mac. He is the consummate experimentalist, and this shines through on an album that goes from the almost giddy beat of “Dang” juxtaposed with Anderson .Paak’s hook, which, according to a recent interview with Mac, is about the death of a loved one, to the outro on “God is Fair, Sexy Nasty” which is apparently narrated by Mac Miller’s actual grandmother.

This album is strange, in the same way as pretty much everything he has done in recent memory. But it is also full of incredibly articulate, genuine moments which show Mac Miller’s incredible growth and lyrical ability. It’s the kind of thing that you really need to hear for yourself, but I would throw in the caveat that if you’re going to listen to the album, listen twice.

Jacob Kruger is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at jpk238@cornell.edu. 

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