THE DIVINE FEMININE by Mac Miller
Genre: Neo-Soul, Jazz Rap
Favorite tracks: “Planet God Damn (featuring Njomza),” “God Is Fair, Sexy Nasty (featuring Kendrick Lamar),” “Soulmate”
THE DIVINE FEMININE deserves an honest review. It’s about being in love and how one of the keys to love is honesty. That’s something I learned while listening to this album. Mac Miller quite obviously has been hit with Cupid’s arrow for his latest project, and after giving it a thorough listen, that’s just fine with me.
As an artist, Mac Miller has played with more sounds in his early 20’s than most do in their entire career. He’s been a voice in all kinds of hip hop, from his early stoner rap to his self-produced psychedelic hip hop. Mac Miller has made his love of jazz and singing no secret throughout his career, releasing entire jazz-inspired projects under different aliases, such as Larry Lovestein & the Velvet Revival. “Smooth jazz-hop” is the combination of words that come to mind. Mac Miller captures a certain feeling on the LP with smooth Rhodes, seductive saxophones, and the vocals of Ariana Grande… it’s the full package. All the while, Mac still keeps his music punchy, and doesn’t alienate his fans with hip hop-inspired sounds. Although the beautiful production and Mac’s consistently solid rapping/singing is nothing that will alienate fans, the overall feel of the album itself might.
Listening to THE DIVINE FEMININE for the ode to love that it is may be difficult for fans who are expecting something more traditional. Where his previous projects like WATCHING MOVIES WITH THE SOUND OFF and GO:OD AM bring grit and character, with hard-hitting production and boastful lyricism, THE DIVINE FEMININE is gritty in a different way than his previous work. Instead of the philosophical self-reflection and drug references we’re used to from Mac, every song on FEMININE is dreamy, surreal, and quite sincerely about being in love. This should come as no surprise to those who heard him state on Power 106 LA that he has been 30 days sober and has a love life with Ariana Grande. If you’ve ever wondered how it feels on the inside to date a beautiful A-list pop sensation, listen to FEMININE. Although I can foresee FEMININE missing the mark with some of Mac’s fans as a whole project, it hits the bullseye on a completely new dartboard.
The album is niche in concept, but diverse in sound. Mac has songs with his old friend Kendrick Lamar and 2 Chainz that indeed stand out as more traditionally hip hop inspired tracks, while “Dang! (featuring Anderson .Paak)” certainly feels more jazz-inspired. This diversity of sound in the album encapsulates a recurring theme in Mac Miller’s still young career. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this flexibility and youthfulness is what makes the album so special and energetic. As far as hip hop goes, there aren’t all too many mixtapes on datpiff about the magic of being head over heels, but Mac covers all the bases. On “Skin,” Mac employs vivid imagery to reach R. Kelly levels of sexual energy. I believe the word “waterfall” was mentioned. However, on “Cinderella (featuring Ty Dolla $ign),” Mac raps to an emotional guitar riff and a punchy drum-loop that’s more emotional, filling one with emotional longing similar to that which occurs after a night of drinking alone. Point being, the album has a slew of different emotions floating around, but at the end of the day it all ties back to a heart-eyed Mac Miller.
On a lyrical and technical level, FEMININE isn’t breaking new ground. What it does do, however, is bring something conceptually fresh to the table. More than just psychedelic and sensual, it’s intimate — and intimacy is a key component of both hip hop and jazz. It has a standalone quality as an LP that demands it to be examined as a singular piece of art — as all albums should be. If you’re looking for the next Donald Trump-style party anthem, you’re not going to find it on THE DIVINE FEMININE. There’s nothing even remotely close, as the feelings on this album run much more along the lines of Marvin Gaye than Kanye… but if you’re getting tired of the same generic rap, then I strongly recommend you take a dive into the THE DIVINE FEMININE.
After this one, I’m even more excited to see what’s next from Mac Miller.