Miller Collaborates on Experimental Album

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Miller and Grande pose for the release of their collaborative song. Miller’s album was released on Sept. 16 and the tour will start on Oct. 23.

Mac Miller further departs from what was once his usual strain of hip hop, “stoner rap,” with “The Divine Feminine,” a collection of love, or perhaps more accurately, lust songs tinted by Miller’s newfound penchant for neo-soul and jazz, laced by the vocal stylings of his girlfriend Ariana Grande.

“Dang!” the strongest song on “The Divine Feminine,” is a slick, up-tempo funk number about love’s misunderstandings. The track has bounce and bite thanks to 2016 XXL Freshman Anderson .Paak’s groovy chorus and Miller’s gritty flow. Miller sounds uncharacteristically impassioned, a stark contrast to his often uninflected and soporific flow. Horns, provided by Julliard students, are cleverly featured, accenting the track, and thanks to producer Pomo, buoyant synths make the song more vibrant.

However, much of the album’s remainder lacks this infectious quality. Miller tries his hardest to create a Chance the Rapper song with “Stay,” with the track’s jazzy brass instrumentation and heavy beat, but ultimately fails to make the track compelling due to the unimpressive caliber of Miller’s lyricism and forgettable chorus.

“My Favorite Part,” a duet with Ariana Grande, has Miller testing the waters as a singer. Miller croons over a lackluster instrumental, and his singing is mediocre at best, especially juxtaposed against Grande’s vocals. Grande is out of her pop element, but her work with Miller is arguably better than her own music. Miller brings out the best in Grande, while Grande brings out Miller’s soft side.

This album‘s shining moments lie in its featured artists other artists. The hypnotic guitar lick and smooth, discerning vocals of CeeLo Green on “We” make the track enjoyable mood music.

“Cinderella,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, is wistful and yearning, both musically and lyrically: “I been waitin’ all night for this moment / Take my hand, come with me to my room.”

The final track, “God Is Fair, Sexy, Nasty,” is an interesting end to the album, thanks to Kendrick Lamar and Robert Glasper. Glasper gives the sexual ballad maturity and emotion with his thoughtful piano melodies. Lamar provides the track with much-needed poetry: “You don’t mind that I don’t care / Your divinity has turned me into a sinner / God is fair / And your beauty can even make hell have a winter.” All the while, Miller lags behind Lamar lyrically: “All I really wanna do is procreate / I’m a Superman, you’ll be my Lois Lane.”

Miller’s overarching theme of cosmic feminine divinity is lost in translation. “It was actually a concept that was told to me about just the energy of the world being a female energy, the energy of the planet,” Miller said of the album’s name in an interview on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 Radio show. “And just kind of like how that mirrors the soul of a woman, and you know, like Mother Earth and falling in love with the universe.”

The feminine divinity that Miller talks about is based solely on a female’s sexuality, not much else. Miller handles this sensuality clumsily; in “Skin,” his lyrics are lacking poetic prowess and imagination. The song stays with clear, vulgar sexual lyrics, not even an innuendo in sight.

Miller wants to tackle grander-than-life themes, but he lacks the lyrical maturity to properly communicate his ideas, making his lyrics juvenile and lacking of a subtlety that comes with lyrical genius.

But what Miller lacks lyrically, he makes up for musically. By exploring his vocal abilities and the neo-soul and jazz genres, Miller ensures that “The Divine Feminine” is his most experimental, and concise, work to date. Miller has decisively distanced himself from “stoner rap” and solidified his footing as an artist to watch.

The album is available on Apple Music, iTunes and Amazon.

photo courtesy of newsclip.com

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Sophia Ordaz is a freshman at UCA double majoring in English and Linguistics. She is a bookworm, a lover of 90s hip hop, a Quentin Tarantino mega-fan and a part-time barista.

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