While many discovered Mac Miller during his early mixtape days, my introduction to his music was 2011’s Billboard 200 topping Blue Slide Park. Blue Slide Park was just short of being a musical abomination, a white suburban frat boy edition of Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers (a poor record on its own merits). So why would I even listen to this? In 1993, Radiohead released Pablo Honey, and in 1995, they released The Bends. Artists can change and grow, and I heard good things about Watching Movies With the Sound Off from previous Mac Miller naysayers. So how is it?
It’s actually decent.
Mac Miller still has plenty of problems, but it’s clear that he’s worked hard to reduce their severity. His lyricism isn’t especially good, but it’s no longer so bad that it distracts from other aspects of the music. Sure, it can tend to drift towards naval-gazing pop philosophy, but it’s not stupid, just short on details. It feels honest, if not necessarily always compelling. His flow’s gotten a little better too, but the largest leap in quality from Blue Slide Park is on the production.
With success and improvement in rapping comes more producers willing to contribute to your projects. While Blue Slide Park was largely produced by ID Labs, Watching Movies With the Sound Off features a slew of talented guest producers, including Flying Lotus, Pharrell Williams, The Alchemist, Chuck Inglish, and SAP. However, what’s most impressive is that half of the record’s production is handled by “Larry Fisherman”, who is actually Mac himself. His work on this end far outstrips ID Labs, particularly on “Suplexes Inside of Complexes and Duplexes”, one of the best tracks here and Mac’s most impressive holistic effort.
It can get repetitive, it’s over an hour in length (too long), and Mac’s no rap god, but overall, this is okay, with a particularly good four song stretch from “Red Dot Music” to the aforementioned “Suplexes Inside of Complexes and Duplexes”. I can listen to the whole thing without pain or irritation, which is more than I was expecting I could say after Mac’s previous work.
Music video for single “Watching Movies”: