Favorite Track: "Come Back to Earth" Least Favorite Track: "Conversation Pt. 1"
It has been about nine months since the hip-hop community was first informed of the death of Malcolm James McCormick, known professionally as Mac Miller. Music is something that is incredibly healing. It acts as an art form with healing qualities that are so incredibly specific to itself, due to the fact that music is the perfect medium in which one can blur the lines of how surface level or abstract their message can be delivered. Music allows one to reach others on a more personal level than any other art form. Through Mac’s entire discography he understands this. Through his early work, his labors formed into positivity, nostalgia, and happiness. Mac made music to make people happy. Themes of carefree, optimistic, spontaneity were stressed through Mac’s first project in ; Blue Slide Park, to classic albums that he slaved over such as ; Watching Movies With The Sound Off. This man wanted his silly frat raps to stand for something more than himself; he wanted them to stand for good times, fun, and obviously memories. “Life’s so good, please enjoy it, end of every night when your head’s in the toilet.”. However, somewhere along the line this man and his life changed. As we grew up so did Mac, and while we all wish we could party forever sometimes life, work, or love gets in the way. Swimming isn’t a break up Album. Swimming is a project about learning to live with yourself, make yourself happy, and swim in the emotions that come with separating from a partner rather than drowning in them. This album is a beautiful and wholesome confession of mind, soul, body, growth, loneliness, and ones struggle to be contempt on their own. On this tour through the mind of post Ariana Grande, Mac Miller, we find a soulful, buttery, and extremely smooth listen. Swimming’s sound is calm, collected and sometimes hypnotic. This generally plays out postivilely for Mac but occasionally it acts as this records kryptonite. While this LP is produced to project a certain aesthetic, the moody feel of the album sometimes leaves some of the tracks feeling a little run of the mill or bland. Sometimes the record sort of blends together. For some people thats a god sent quality, but for me it can make the project seem a little lackluster at times. Although we don’t receive any listed features, Swimming includes it’s fair share of big name collaborators including ; J. Cole, Pharell Williams, and Flying Lotus on production and even some appearances from J.I.D. and Snoop Dog for some backing vocals. John Mayer, Steve Lacy, Mac himself, and a number of other guitar extraordinaires handle the strings on this thing. This long list of collaborators doesn’t pull Mac too far from his roots as we still hear some of the psychedelic and spacey beats we are used to hearing from him on records such as Macadelic. Where Mac does experiment a little on this LP is with his headspace. This is by far the most dismal, dark, and moody piece we ever got from Miller and the album kicks off as such. I truly think the intro “Come Back to Earth” is one of the most honest, focussed, and beautiful songs of 2018. The track is simply gorgeous. On the chorus when Mac rhymes ; I got neighbors that move like strangers we could be friends. I just need a way out of my head” it exemplifies only one instance where Mac talks about being stuck in his own head. As much as I hate to say it, the man predicted his own death time and time again. Nonetheless, the dictionary lacks the words for me to convey to you how in love I am with this tracks simplicity and its sentiment. As far as sentiment goes, track #6 “Wings” also finds strength in its simplicity. If Swimming were made up of tracks like these two it would be one of my favorite rap albums of all time. “Wings” features a very stripped down, and calm beat that seems to pace itself perfectly. Some of the stuttering synth patterns feel like waves of sound pushing toward you. It sounds like his voice might of been mixed a little louder in this track than on other ones off Swimming which works very well. The loud delivery of his bars agains’t the quietness of the beat works very nicely. To contrast “What’s the Use?”, is still dismal in a different way. On this track Mac takes his struggles with a grain of salt and over this funky beat, he makes light of them for five minutes. The baseline off this one bumps so hard, like something out of a Roots beat or a Chili Peppers Song or The Sugarhill gang’s ; “Rapper Delight”. All in all this LP is rather confusing. It’s so tough because you have tracks like the ones previously mentioned but you also have songs that have very little character if any at all ; like “Conversation Pt. 1” or “Jet Fuel” that really drag on. It’s songs like these that make a good portion of Swimming painfully bland. The album doesn’t get repetitive persay, it just becomes uninteresting at a certain point. Mac Miller has never been the best at making “Albums” he is more of a “songs” type of artist so it was always hard to expect a full length listen from Malcolm to be engaging from front to back. Despite this, Swimming paces itself and this man has a lot to say. If you can appreciate where Mac is coming from and relate to his emotional struggles Swimming might just be the album for you. Mac Miller grew up with a generation on his back. A generation that will never forget this man, or what he did for hip hop.