Mac Miller may have began his journey in the rap game as a wild adolescent on But My Mackin’ Ain’t Easy. But mixtape by mixtape and album by album, he grew up.
The rapper’s newly released The Divine Feminine is quite possibly the most concise work the Pittsburgh rapper has ever released. Originally making strictly party songs, the themes in Miller’s music slowly turned darker and darker, hitting a crest on Watching Movies with the Sound Off.
He then returned to positivity on GO:OD AM, this time scrapping the hoodlum façade in favor of something more sincere. But it was merely a testing of the waters — an experimental album driven more by aesthetic than substance.
On The Divine Feminine, Miller doesn’t explore a wide variety of topics. Instead, he analyzes the nuances of one — love.
The album opens with “Congratulations,” a delicate ballad dedicated to an unnamed lover. Miller manages to rap over the soft piano instrumental without sounding out of place, thanking his girl for being there “before the fancy cars” and “when [he] was just a starving artist.”
“Dang!” follows, a groovy plea for forgiveness. Anderson .Paak joins Miller on the song, arguably the best on the album, providing a smooth, refreshing chorus. Beautiful chord progressions accompany the artists throughout the song. A special moment occurs near the end of Miller’s verse, when the crescendo peaks and the twangy saxophones halt, leaving Miller alone with the piano for the last few bars.
Instrumentals on the album range from epic orchestral arrangements to simple piano melodies, introducing saxophone and guitar from time to time. Miller is able to keep his tone calm so he doesn’t stand out on the songs. Instead, he creates a fantastic faction of voice and instrument.
While the album as a whole is enjoyable to listen to, one of the most interesting aspects is its lyrical content. Though Miller raps about female genitalia more than the average rapper, he’s never exactly been known as a romantic. It seems, however, that he aims to change that on The Divine Feminine.
On some songs, Miller spews his emotions out blindly, such as on “Cinderella,” where he assures his lover, “Wherever you came from, wherever you going / I promise I’m not far behind.”
Other songs, like “Dang!” and “Stay,” show Miller in a more contemplative light, reflecting on his choices and examining his priorities. This contrast is indicative of Miller’s attitude toward love — complicated. He constantly attempts to break down love and figure out exactly how it fits in the grand scheme of life — and also how it changes.
The Divine Feminine reveals a more vulnerable Miller. A Miller not obsessed with drugs and alcohol, but with love. While this Miller may be unwelcome to some, it’s sure to attract a group of listeners previously disinterested in the party rap scene. While the album may split fans, Miller has never been more solid.