Album Review: Mac Miller – Blue Side Park
From the outset it seems that Mac Miller had the odds stacked against him. He’s very young, just 19 years old; he also has that ‘flavour of the month’ vibe which has seen rappers such as Asher Roth hit stardom very quickly and then plummet from sight just as quick; and he’s a white rapper, who often fall into the trap of being labelled as ‘the next Eminem’, only to see them fail to meet the extraordinarily high expectation. However, despite this the Pittsburgh hometown hero has forged his own path, and could be one of the great success stories of the year.
Miller’s highly anticipated debut album, Blue Slide Park, comes on the heels of a successful mixtape run and his unexpected YouTube hit Donald Trump, which managed to not only get Miller’s name out there, but also cement him as one of the must-watch upcoming MCs.
The album starts off with the short but sweet English Lane. The track features Miller yearning to return to Blue Slide Park, a park which was just two blocks from Miller’s high school and played a prominent part of his childhood. This sets the tone for the rest of the album which often has Miller looking backwards, reminiscing about his younger years.
Frick Park Market, one of the lead singles off the album, features strong lyrics from the rapper, and shows off a smooth flow that will impress even the most jaded listeners. The track, which runs over an old school beat, really captures the enthusiasm and energy of the young rapper. My Team is another track that shows off the sublime flow, which has Miller slowing down and speeding up his rhymes in tune with the beat.
Smile Back lets us see a more aggressive side of Miller instead of his usual playful persona. The track features Miller dropping sharp rhymes such as ‘hold up, drop it quick and bring it back, I could change the world with just a single track’ over the heavy beat, and gives us a glimpse into a more mature and serious side of the rapper.
Up All Night is a rather creative track that could act as a bit of a party anthem, and has a distinct party-rock feel to it that isn’t quite captured anywhere else on the album, making it stand out as a rather unique joint.
Missed Call is also a standout on the album. The piano and cord laced beat is an exceptional beat, most likely the strongest from the album, and features Miller rapping over it about a past flame. Similarly, Under The Weather is a very solid song, and features probably the strongest chorus of the album, which is catchy enough to see some serious radio play in the future. If there’s one thing that can be said, it’s that Miller certainly doesn’t lack confidence or ambition. He raps like he’s been doing it for years, yet has a very fresh sound to his music.
However, as with many young artists Miller seems to struggle with consistency at times. While there are a lot of highs (excuse the pun) on the album, there are also some lows that prevent it from being a classic. Despite some decent rhymes, Party On Fifth Ave comes off as overly corny at times. And Of The Soul sees Miller try and tackle things a more serious range of topics, but overly doesn’t seem to come together as well as some of the other tracks on the album.
It could also be said that often the chorus on the album fail to hit the mark; and the subject matter of the album is rather limited, prominently revolving around past memories or drugs references.
However, at just 19 years old, a lot of these flaws can be reasonably excused, and while not a debut effort that will set the world on fire, it definitely does enough to show us that Miller is a legitimate player, and one that will seemingly be sticking around for quite a while
Standout Tracks: “Frick Park Market”, “Smile Back”, “Missed Calls”
1. English Lane
2. Blue Slide Park
3. Party On Fifth Ave
4. PA Nights
5. Frick Park Market
6. Smile Back
7. Under The Weather
8. Of The Soul
9. My Team
10. Up All Night
12. Hole In The Pocket
13. Diamonds & Gold
14. Missed Calls
15. Man In The Hat
16. One Last Thing