This is our first official review in StraightFresh history. A lot of people have been looking forward to Blue Slide Park and my thoughts on his Mac’s debut album can be found after the jump. Enjoy!
We have seen some monstrous album drops this year. Among the heavyweights, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil’ Wayne and Drake, on paper it almost seems impossible to compete in such a market. But new artists have developed a formula to fight against these veterans and pave their own way into the industry.
This plan that many new artists have mastered is comprised of giving away plenty of free music, heavy blogging and Twitter activity, and constantly performing and touring. One of the biggest beneficiaries of this scheme has been 19-year-old Mac Miller. With over 1 million followers on Twitter, Miller has gained a cult following of high school and college kids. The Pittsburgh native has had plenty of success already, and a debut album is the one thing he needs to make the jump from Internet sensation to polished artist. What a coincidence: “Blue Slide Park” came out this week. To most other artists, being sandwiched between releases by Wale and Drake is a recipe for a debut album’s suicide. Luckily for Miller, his fans are loyal, young and very impressionable. Now onto the music.
With Miller, listeners have come to expect a certain consistency from project to project. His lyrics have always been heavily focused on girls, partying and tales from high school. “Blue Slide Park” is no different, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. At only 19 with no real industry experiences yet Miller is in a unique situation. What else is he going to make songs about other than buying sneakers and drinking?
In the song “Frick Park Market,” Miller says, “I got my own stickers now so literally I’m everywhere, 100 different shoes still feel the need to cop a fresher pair.” Not the most eloquent of lyrics, but this is the essence of what Miller has built his career on: self-promotion, connection to fans and trend setting.
There is nothing too outstanding about the lyrics as a whole on “Blue Slide Park,” but Miller’s delivery and track presence have always been his strongest attributes and a diversion from his immature songwriting abilities. Check out the title track “Blue Slide Park” for an example of turning sub-par lyrics into deliverable rhymes. Following suit with plenty of rap releases lately, some of the songs are dedicated to that one girl from an artist’s past that he can’t let go. “Missed Calls” is a prime example of such reflective crooning, so listen up if that’s what you’re into.
I’ve never been, and still am not a huge advocate for Mac Miller as a rapper. But I’ve always commended his choices in production. He has a good ear for picking beats to complement, and sometimes carry his rhymes. “Blue Slide Park” features some really heavy beats that carry a smooth transition from track to track. Some of the more rugged beats are contrasted by Miller’s playful and cheery lyrics, creating a pretty unique sound. Examples of this come on both “Smile Back” and “Loitering.” This album definitely lacks the “golden era” hip-hop sound that Miller has backed for his entire career. “Party on Fifth Ave” fits that role perfectly, but songs like “Up All Night” and “Man in the Hat” find Miller trying too hard to soften his sound and appeal to the crossover audience.
Debut albums are supposed to be an introduction to the complete background of the artist, and this was accomplished by Miller bringing listeners back to his home. You could say that this album lacks the content needed to compete with veteran artists. You could also say that Miller sounds too similar from track to track. Any previous judgments you had about the immaturity of the young rapper could be backed up with some of the songs on “Blue Slide Park.” But this release is way bigger than just the music. This album is a statement for upcoming independent artists worldwide. However, many scans this album racks up will be a direct representation of the hard work and commitment to independence that the Miller camp has. It is indeed possible to be successful without a major label deal. Hundreds of concerts and millions of YouTube views later, Mac Miller finally breaks through with what could be one of the most commercially successful independent rap albums in a long time. He introduced the snapback hat to suburban kids all across the country, so expect the fans to repay him with a high number of first week album sales.
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