Mac Miller is the king of Pittsburgh rap. It sounds like a huge title, but when your only competition is Wiz Khalifa it seems a little less impressive to acquire. Nonetheless, both artists have taken the sound of “weed rap” over from the West Coast and brought it to the industrial city of Pittsburgh, making a new second home for the sound over on the East Coast.
The only differences between the two artists are that 1) whether you like him or not, Mac Miller is making waves for white rap, and 2) like Kanye West said, no one’s ever listened to a Wiz Khalifa album all the way through. One caveat to the argument may come with Mac Miller’s fanbase being completely comprised of frat-guys, with Miller standing out as the seemingly always high frat-bro champion, but either way, with Khalifa being the only competition in Pittsburgh it makes sense how successful Mac Miller has become. It’s even more so, now that he’s in the media 24/7 for being in a relationship with pop-star Ariana Grande.
Good for Grande, on the grounds that Dangerous Woman had her sounding like the most sexually deprived 20-something alive, but at the same time she could do so much better. Not meant as an attack on Mac Miller’s character, but if Dangerous Woman was an album about how horny Ariana Grande was, The Divine Feminine is an album about how Mac Miller can “supply such a service” (to keep it PG-13). Don’t think “Let Me Love You” by Mario however, The Divine Feminine is more like “She Said OK” by Big Boi or “Wait (The Whisper Song)” by the Ying Yang Twins. Something I learned from The Divine Feminine: Mac Miller is uncomfortably raunchy.
I’ve enjoyed Mac Miller in the past: most of Watching Movies with the Sound Off wasn’t all that bad, and “100 Grand” off of last year’s GO:OD AM was actually one of my favorite rap tracks of 2015, not to mention the record’s stellar production, but The Divine Feminine is a whole new concept for Mac Miller. Is that concept deeper than a man bragging about his supposed sexual prowess? It doesn’t seem so.
In a radio interview with the Breakfast Club, Mac Miller seemed as if he couldn’t explain anything about his album without it sounding like vague weed-smoke induced bullshit while simultaneously dodging all questions regarding his relationship with Grande. He was somewhat more coherent on Zane Lowe, when Miller said the album was about how “love is the most beautiful emotion and no matter what, you’re overwhelmed. It’s like nothing exists anymore,” he says, “That’s where we start–that blinding, overpowering love high. It gets into sex, issues, resolve; it goes through this path that applies not just towards love of another person, but love in general, the feminine energy of the planet.”
So it’s something like that: the feminine energy of the planet, mother nature, the divine forces of love, etc. Hard to push that concept when you have lyrics like “See I knows you smell like cinnamon, kissin’ your lips / I lick my fingertips and get your clitoris in the mix / My dick on business trips / My tongue twistin’ is ticklin’ just a little bit / I’m swimmin’ inside of your skin like a river,” but hey maybe he’s talking about oral sex with Mother Earth’s figurative vagina because that makes more sense to him than just saying he’s in hot nasty dirty love with Ariana Grande for some reason. Your new album isn’t a Georgia O’Keeffe painting Mac, let’s calm down. You don’t see R. Kelly trying to mask his lyrics in universal concepts or existential humans-in-space metaphors unless you count “Sex Planet,” but I think his motives are pretty damn clear right off from the title.
Other than The Divine Feminine‘s borderline-sexist-borderline-extreme-tree-hugging concepts, the production stays pretty true to the caliber set by GO:OD AM. Songs like “Dang!” with Anderson .Paak, the opener “Congratulations,” and “My Favorite Part” with Ariana Grande make for decent jams in the neo-soul revival movement in hip-hop, but I honestly can’t get past most of the lyrics on this record. Where Mac Miller showed his rap skills, excellent production, and honesty on GOO:OD AM, The Divine Feminine shows how sexually explicit he can be. It’s an “interesting” direction choice, but I honestly don’t want to hear about it.