Pittsburgh based rapper Mac Miller released his The Divine Feminine LP last weekend. The initial EP, turned full 10-track album, is a mixture of funk and electro R&B samples accompanied by a slew of features.
The once keg-standing “frat rapper” has grown since the days of Blue Slide Park and his craft has benefited as a result. The flurry of self-reflections about drug abuse as covered in Miller’s past work, are replaced exclusively by the topics of love and companionship. Miller has never been shy about his romantic life, and he places it entirely on display over the course of the album. The track “Skin” stands out particularly with lyrics like, “I opened up your legs and go straight for your heart.”
It is notable that Miller avoids exploring the acts of love, without becoming unsavory. He succeeds in appearing more passionate than lustful and the LP benefits as a result.
Three quarters of the LP include impressive features, who each deliver a beneficial layer to the respective tracks, while complementing Miller’s lyrics. Njomza, whom Miller signed, provides a hook on “Planet God Damn” that encapsulates the romantic theme of Miller’s lyrics while adding a needed feminine touch. The same is true for TY Dolla $ign’s contribution to the guitar-heavy, eight-minute-long “Cinderella.” The track risked becoming long-winded, but avoided the misstep through shifting into a piano ballad of a somewhat off-key Miller.
The Divine Feminine’s funk sound is done almost as well as work from popular band The Social Experiment, thanks to pianist Robert Glasper and legendary bass player Thundercat. The electro entwined alt R&B, allows for the album to flourish, thanks to a few cues from Kaytranada.
No feature outshines another, yet Kendrick Lamar’s influence on the album’s closing track is evident. It includes slow-paced and drum-heavy sounds, that sound like a stripped down version of Kendrick’s “Alright” as featured on To Pimp a Butterfly. But do not forget, Miller remains the center of attention throughout. The team of features provides the staircase into Miller’s adventure and the experience is oddly heartwarming.
The theme of the album is human connection, and focuses on the idea that the essence of love is something experienced in partnership. This theme provides a backbone for the LP, allowing it to become relatable and enjoyably upbeat music.
Miller succeeds in delivering a collective package that hits its mark. His ability to successfully craft an entire album revolving around the human need for connection makes a definite impression. He clearly did not lack inspiration as he manages to make each track capable of supporting itself.
The album is good, but not amazing. Miller does not revolutionize the use of funk in rap or deliver lyrics that turn heads. But for what it’s worth, the album speaks for Mac Miller’s ability as an artist. Songs like “Dang!” and “My Favorite Part” could have the longevity to continue being played well into the future, but the same cannot be said for the work as a whole. Looking back on Miller’s career, fans will consider The Divine Feminine album as evidence of his artistic ability, but by no means as the masterpiece of his discography.
The Divine Feminine is worth listening to, especially since it’s so enjoyable the first time through. Listeners looking for a concise and well put together work will be pleased, while existing fans may find a lack of substance and replayability.