Mac Miller's been building a career by tapping into the teenage hip-hop demographic with his nostalgic recollections and white-collar teenage angst, and his debut album Blue Slide Park runs right along the lines of the usual modes that's made him an Internet main-name with little to no effort. Pittsburgh's Blue Slide Park is the running theme throughout the album, giving tracks like "Blue Slide Park" a setting, while working as a locus for records like "Frick Park Market," "Party On 5<sup>th</sup> Ave" and the remembrances Mac loosely drags out of memory in his lyrics.
It seems like everything built behind the idea of the album is set for a perfect schematic, told best by the conceptual opener ""English Lane" where Mac uses reminiscences to convey his attachment to the archetype, though it runs into the expected wreckage of clichés and normalcy that go on to dilute the idea.
Tracks like "Party On 5th Ave," "Man In The Hat" and the punk-rockish tween anthem "Up All Night" are transparent, showing how they lend themselves to platitudes in order to be mainstream hits, and their spurious qualities steal away any positive attributes within. Records like "Under The Weather" trip into an indie-pop-hop style almost extraterrestrial to Mac's image, and sit alongside a collection of songs like pornographic croon "Of The Soul" that, at best to the ear, are mediocre.
It's records like "PA Nights" and "One Last Thing" show Mac at his best, working outside of his simple box, while the flow on "Smile Back" exhibit his abilities when he steps out of the norm, the norm that, for most hip-hop heads, has him labeled as the kid who's riding on Wiz Khalifa's coat tails. There's a definite self-inventiveness in his mentality, though the aforementioned slumps in the LP show that Mac is too attached to the proven success of his infinite youth themes rather than focusing on artistic maturity.
The production quality is the greatest success of Blue Slide Park, though in the end, it isn't enough to carry the album. I.D. Labs, a longtime contributor for, who else, Wiz Khalifa, lend colorful sounds, and the popularizing Clams Casino drops unconventional sounds ready to embrace potential, but Mac can't match the strength of the sounds in records like "Of The Soul" or "Loitering" because his lyricism is too redundant, relying on fallback rhymes and topics, and too typical to be called anything more than vanilla in a glossed costume. "Diamonds and Gold" might be an individual song, but contextually, we've heard it twenty times or more.
The problem with Miller's music is that he forces out a lifestyle he doesn't truly live, and one that people can't relate to outside of fantasy. At 19-years-old, he preaches a life of infinite pussy, pot, and living without a price tag, and the end result is only the dream that every frat kid and fist-pumping strobe-lighter envisions. His music preachers a nonexistent fountain of youth. Without question, you have to commend his talent for his age, but if you care to bring that into the equation, then go back Illmatic, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, Can I Borrow A Dollar, even Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller's blueprint (listen to the style in 'Frick Park Market" or "My Team" and disagree) with Show and Prove in 2006—plenty of emcees have released notable works at 19, so that's nothing to use as a primary argument.
In the end, it's undeniable that Mac Miller holds a deep passion, that he loves what he's doing, and that he's got his thumb on his million+ Twitter followers. There's no backing to call him a sellout, because, at the core of it, Mac is projecting his true feelings. The issue is that those feelings are too universal, and his delivery is too unspecific to keep them from being gray.
SumOlogy: House of mirrors--a 'Kidz Bop' of hip-hop in most places.
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