Mac Miller used to be known as Wiz Khalifa’s little homie when he first broke onto the scene, but things are quite different now. Creating a buzz disassociated from anyone but himself, the Pittsburgh representative has gained the approval of many Hip-Hop heavyweights while still maintaining a sound that appears to be ripe for today’s market – a big accomplishment. Blue Slide Park is Miller’s debut album, and listeners of the genre might be divided – between those who want to see him flourish, and those who expected him to fail.
To begin, you have to understand a couple of things here. Mac Miller has been put on by an array of established artists and industry vets, including DJ Premier, DJ Jazzy Jeff, 9th Wonder, Bun B, Talib Kweli, and others. The fact that a white kid who is younger than A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory is getting instant acclaim from such giants in the genre has brought loads of hate, jealousy, and expectation. To be fair, Mac has been a very humble young man throughout all of this, giving out all the appropriate love and homage warranted. However, this seems to have disappeared on Blue Slide Park.
The majority of Blue Slide Park’s production is handled by I.D. Labs, Ritz Reynolds, and Clams Casino – which wouldn’t be a problem if all of the beats were tight. But the majority aren’t. “Up All Night” sounds like a limited attempt at a Hip-Hop oriented Blink-182 track, “Smile Back” sounds like a undershot attempt at a braggadocio Wiz track, and “PA Nights,” “Diamonds & Gold,” and “Frick Park Market” all sound like underwhelming attempts at Mac Miller tracks. It’s as if he hasn’t found his sound yet, which would be understandable if he hadn’t already established his sound with mixtapes and loose tracks.
There are a couple of songs on the LP that are listenable: “Blue Slide Park” is cool, as is “Under The Weather” and “Missed Calls.” “Party on Fifth Ave” samples DJ Kool’s “Let Me Clear My Throat,” and which lends mild intrigue. Songs like “Of The Soul” connect for a verse, but then lose steam due to the mic skills, or lack thereof, of Mac. You don’t listen to Mac Miller for his lyrics; he’s not quite there yet. The appeal has always been his dope production, and the fact that he doesn’t do too much to mess up the groove. But when the groove isn’t established, and he fails to call on his aforementioned ‘super-friends,’ the attention is left all on him. And simply put, Miller needs more experience as a rapper right now.
Although he has denied it before, Mac Miller is a ‘hipster.’ In fact, he is one of leaders of the ever-growing militia of hipsters. It was cool when Miller was wearing snap-backs and sampling Nas, or shouting out Wu-Tang, or rapping over Lord Finesse beats – it sounded good. But Blue Slide Park seems to ditch this approach, while still wearing a snap-back. So now, by some, Mac Miller will likely be labeled by some as a young hipster who is doing Hip-Hop culture wrong. Actually, he’s a real fan of Hip-Hop with under-developed rhymes and mainstream-production problems. Bummer.