You was Easy Mac with the Cheesy raps” – Loaded Lux
I always give props where they are due, and @PeterRosenberg called it a few weeks back when he said that “Mac Miller did on this album what a lot of rappers say they are going to do with their sophomore releases but never do (im paraphrasing off memory). To be fair he said it on twitter, which is a bit innocuous considering the platforms he has nowadays (sorry pmd).
So what did Mac do? Simply put; in my opinion Mac Meezus has made possibly the biggest improvement from album 1 to album 2 in Hip Hop History..ill let it sit in for a second.
2011’s “Blue Slide Park” being album 1 and next tuesday’s “Watching Movies with the Sound Off being album 2. This improvement shows up in an improved overall album, improvement as a rapper, and most of all improvement as an artist.
Right now your probably in one of three camps (I know I hate being boxed in too, but bear with).
1) You liked Mac Miller. Maybe you even really liked him. You were just underwhelmed by his album as well as maybe his space and status and respect level in the game since then, especially considering how good his previous and later mixtape works are/were. Whether you hated or sorta liked BSP is really not that relevant, you know you still check for young Malcom even if its quietly.
2 )You just dont care for the guy, maybe its deserved, maybe your judging a little to hard bc mac on the surface seems like a character from a movie that has a “white rapper kid”. Or maybe you see through the hip hop homages he payed musically early in his career, and dont put much weight into him falling on the sword for what could have been and potentially may still be one of the biggest pandoras boxes and overall fuckeries in hip hop legal history. They settled eventually and thus Mac backed down. Something that is not usually seen as a good career move in this uber competitive rap game, but probably the right move. I think he and his team had the foresight to know that being the goofy white kid rapper beefing with a hip hop legend over a song called “Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza” probably wasn’t the best look. Or maybe you just think he plain ole cant rap? Either way, not your guy.
3) Your MM’s number one stan, you love everything he does, BSP is a classic, coincidentally (but not ) your most likely born after 1995 so deep down inside Macadelic (his latest and definitely most mature mixtape) scared you because of all the drug use and dangerous gangster rappers it featured (except wayne, you heart Weezy right?), but you told your friends you loved it because hey your 17 and you want to be cool. Long story short your opinion is not that important, sorry Jonathan hold on to the Tie Die shirts with Mac’s name on them, they’ll be collectors items one day.
So that brings us to the current date. June 14, 4 days away from the biggest day in a month that I have deemed, and what im sure others will soon echo is potentially the greatest month in the history of this new age of hip hop. Some have titled this period a new “Golden Era” or “Renaissance” in Hip-Hop, whatever you call it, it’s great. Maybe it’s because I’m currently more engulfed in what I love (HH) than I ever have been, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t enjoying Hip Hop in SOME way shape or form, more than they used to a few years back. Im extra biased in that my birthday happens to be June 18th, the day that Kanye’s Yeezus, J. Cole’s Born Sinner and Mac Millers Watching Movies with the Sound off all happen to drop on.
Mac MIller apparently had the date first and later admitted that when told Kanye had decided on June 18th as well, he first thought to run, but later decided “it was an omen”, a good one im guessing. Cole’s decision to push his release date UP in order to “compete” with Kanye became almost his albums main source of promotion. At first and nearly altogether, this whole Kanye vs. Cole concept was subterfuging Miller’s WMWTSO. Miller seemed to take it well and in stride
“But I’m like this is the perfect way to do it. That this is an omen, there’s a reason that this is happening,” he explained. “I don’t know what it is, but there’s some reason. And J. Cole came up with his ‘I wanna go against Kanye.’ Maybe he didn’t know I was also dropping. He didn’t wanna mention the kid, which is cool. No hard feelings. But it’s become this really big day, which is exciting man.”
And it has been (very) exciting, over the past two weeks or so Miller has managed to garner enough attention and momentum to put his album back to about where it would have been, and possibly more so had the Cole involvement not been as direct. Either way it was going to be a packed month with Cole’s originally scheduled for the same day as June 24th’s Wale (the true rope-a-dope candidate to snatch this album of the month crown). Some of Mac’s regained momentum has to be due to his whole underdog/dak horse angle being brought to light to some degree. This notion is equal parts ironic and humorous considering just how much Miller really is and has been, WINNING since he first rose to notoriety Not that it matters, but dollar fo dollar I doubt Cole, who undeniably occupies a much more respected and seemingly higher “class” lane, could monetarily stack up with Millers success so far.
It really should be noted how interesting it is that these two are so tied to each other in subtle but very direct ways. Foremost being the timing of their 1st albums (one month apart, with Cole’s first) and now their 2nd albums, but also the common theme of how big of an improvement both made from one to the next. I imagine the two are aware of this themselves. Considering how friendly both are with their peers in the game (neither has encoutered any real beefs) its almost glarring that neither has any real first hand association with the other in any form or direct connection?
Had Millers album not exceeded expectations in the way that I think it will and already somewhat has publicly I would most likely be writing a very similar article about such a major leap happening from album 1 to 2, speaking about Cole and Born Sinner. I promise you that would honestly not be any kind of reach.
Now the biggest thing that makes Miller’s album leap seem larger than Cole’s is not only that Cole’s is just more complex and harder to judge because he has produced both his albums pretty much in full, but also because Mllers first album was a GOOD DEAL worse than Cole’s. I mention Cole being the producer as a complex factor in evaluating the albums improvement somewhat to bring to light the idea that if we were JUST talking about lyrical prowess and improvement, Cole would be making a very strong case. To me the biggest thing I got from Born Sinner, is that Cole has staked his claim as one of THE BEST RAPPERS IN THE GAME, and he knows it.
While both Cole and Miller did exceedingly well commercially. When you take into account the context, Miller’s acheivment on that front is more impressive considering he was the first independent album to go number 1 in almost 20 yrs and up until the similarly named and skin toned Maclemore came through with the ceiling not holding him, Millers was arguably the most successful independent album ever. But both were seen not only by some fans, but by the both artists themselves as disappointments, and in retrospect not the albums they wanted to put out. But not identical regrets, in that Miller seemed more disappointed and affected by the negative reviews and criticism, whereas Cole seemed to just feel he could of done better, even though he was nominated for a best new artist grammy
As of 6/13 Born sinner has leaked in full (bonus tracks now too*), seemingly by Coles own choice, going as far as streaming the non deluxe version in limited form on his own website over a week and a half before the release date. Cole’s sophmore album has so far been met with almost universal praise of varying levels and examples. Personally I think its a very good album, better even than Mac’s probably. OVERALL. Also bearing in mind that I have been a longer and stronger Cole fan than Mac up until now. But again the jump Mac is making is what makes his achievement so impressive.
When I thought about it, and posed the question to my friends whose opinions I trust and Twitter (including some of @rosenbergradios much larger follow base); people responded with Eminem, Drake, and some others that dont really fit the bill. But again in all those cases, their first albums were not even bad and in the case of Em and Drake, in some people opinions better than their sophomore releases (those opnions being the minority though).
The best example a friend could come up with, and a pretty solid one is the jump that Mobb Deep made from 93’s “Juvenile Hell” to 95’s CLASSIC “The Infamous”. Without getting too deep into it, there are a lot of things at play to explain why Mobb’s first album just wasnt that good. The difference in resources to make quality music and just so many things in that era and in Mobb’s specific case that affect why their leap was so vast, aka why the first album wasnt that good really. The comparison to Miller is made extra interesting when you consider that both Prodigy and Havoc of Mobb Deep were actually younger than Miller was when their respective debuts first were released.
Millers move and subsequent setting up shop (no Earl Simmons) in California and public friendship/associations with Odd Future , and specifically Earl Sweatshirt, as well as many other “cool and edgy” contemporaries of his seemed to be a good indication he was headed in the right direction. His first single was produced by Indie Darling and OF homie Flyin Lotus and sort of sounds like a Dilla beat, thumbs up.
But it was this freestyle that he layed down for Funk Flex at the end of april that really made me think (even before Rosenbergs comments) that mayyybe Malcom was trying to and making progress getting from the Middle into Breaking Bad status.
Crazy that as I write this and re watch the video, it dawns on me, THE FREESTYLE HE’S SPITTING IS OVER SHOOK ONES, CRAZY FULL CIRCLE BROOOOO)
So like most of the things I write, the end result isn’t exactly what I first intended and somewhat not what the title might imply. That being said im not going to do an in-depth review to Watching Movies With The Sound Off, especially because its not even out yet officially. I will just say that if your anything like me, by the middle to end of track 1 “The Star Room” you will already see the vision and might possibly think to yoursel “wow this is already better than anything on the first album”. As you continue through you’ll hear a fun (a quality Mac is often lambasted for) but still somewhat dark, moody, drugged out and trippy album. An album that contains strong and original concepts, GREAT features, and a cohesive work that is well plotted out and sequenced. All helmed by a guy that has improved leaps and bounds lyrically; adding more elaborate concepts, content and just new flows and cadences.
I havent heard it enough to make this statement confidently but, I think the true test of a GREAT and definitely of a CLASSIC album (Which im not saying WMWTSO is necessarily) is to not just to be thought of as great by those who are inclinded to think so; but the notion that NO ONE CAN DENY HOW GOOD THE ALBUM IS, AND IF THEY DO THEY ARE JUST HATERS (for lack of more suiting word). But yea, the album may end up being at that somewhat unarguably solid status, time certainly will tell.
In the end we all win, this tuesday I’ll be buying (thanks to that bday $, I see you Aunt Genie) more albums in one day than I’ve bought in the last 2 years or so. In fact ive purchased none so far this year. You fucked up Jai Paul, you could have just kept the price tag on that “fake album”
and I would happily dropped a few duckets, you had me at Jasmine