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


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

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.





How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?


The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.


'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.