Music

Mac Miller: Faces

Mac Miller continues on his path following money, fame, drugs and alcohol, while writing some clever, craftily worded lyrics along the way.


Mac Miller

Faces

Label: Rostrum
US Release Date: 2014-05-11
UK Release Date: 2014-05-11
Amazon
iTunes

Superficially, Mac Miller is not your obvious hip-hop star. He's a pale, Jewish white kid who looks like he's going to pass out on stage let alone perform and entertain a crowd. Thankfully we live in a world where superficial judgements can be silenced with talent. Mac Miller only needs to open his mouth and all doubts about his hip-hop integrity can be swept under the carpets. Faces is what you present to people when they tell you that Mac Miller can't cement himself as a credible hip-hop artist. He's proved that he's not a fluke talent, building on the hype he created with Watching Movies With The Sound Off, and he's proved that you don't need to be from the hood to make it in hip hop.

Faces asserts, not for the first time, that Miller is in this on his own. He's always stayed away from the bright lights of big labels, and his debut album Blue Side Park was the first independent hip-hop album in nearly 20 years to top the Billboard charts. He hasn't chased after the big names to hunt down features and put his name out there, something he acknowledges in ''Here We Go'' where he says he "did it all without a Drake feature." Yes, there are features on the album, but they're there because they work with the song, not because they're a big name. Earl Sweatshirt's appearance on ''Polo Jeans'' is infectious, and the relatively obscure Mike Jones was brought in on ''Uber'', not because of his name, but because of how he could enhance the song. His production is also brilliant throughout the album. Using the pseudonym Larry Fisher, he has enough production talent to pack the whole rap game in and do just fine. The album spans from the melancholy beats to the high energy tracks such as ''Therapy''. Mac Miller, the boy who fell in love and devoted himself to hip-hop at 15, seems to genuinely care about the work he produces. Nothing is rushed, everything is carefully crafted, and it's paying off.

What's so satisfying about this mixtape, and Millers work in general, is that you feel like you're truly following the progression of his life. For the first time we see Miller documenting the fall out of his rise to fame. New found money and fame appear alongside drugs and addiction, with Miller portraying himself as having a "drug habit like Phillip Hoffman" on ''What Do You Do?''. It's a seemingly realistic portrayal of his problems. There's no slamming drug use, but he's insightfully aware of how dangerous they can be. On ''Friends'' we see the effect of drugs on those around him as he raps, "I know my father probably wish I would just smoke pot / My grandmother probably slap me for the drugs I got." Throughout the mixtape we gradually see how fame brings its perks, but also it's vices, and these vices soon dominate the mindset of Miller, rendering his new found fame relatively obsolete. It's an astute insight and at times it makes for somewhat difficult listening.

The biggest flaw is that it's too long. At around 90 minutes in length, smart lyrics and flawless production begin to fall on deaf ears. It's a rookie mistake and even the most established of artists would avoid an album of that length. Yet if the main flaw is that you can have too much of a good thing then it's evident that Faces is something that every hip-hop fan should delve into without questioning whether a white Jewish kid from Pittsburgh can rap.

7

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Culture

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image