I’ll be forthright; I’m not a huge fan of Malcolm James McCormick (Mac Miller). In fact, I’m not a fan at all. I haven’t heard much of his work prior to this album therefor, when I started Watching Movies with the Sound Off, needless to say I wasn’t sure of what I was about to experience. I respect his effort in the industry thus far, with Blue Slide Park (his debut studio album) reaching the #1 spot upon it’s release but I’ve never found myself enjoying his music. That said, the independent individual has only been growing in presence, bringing myself to listen to his interestingly titled project and quite frankly? I have no regrets.
Introspective & reflective right from the start, Miller’s struggles pour out as he floats across “The Star Room.” The instrumental oozes along like few other pieces of his project, providing a wide range of space for a various assortment in terms of delivery; an opportunity that is taken advantage of throughout the project.
Authentic emotion, mixed in with Mac Miller’s approach and contributions from Odd Future’s own Earl Sweatshirt make up the stellar “I’m Not Real” which is one of the outstanding features on the project, next to ScHoolBoy Q’s assistance and the extremely rare Jay Electronica verse. “Took a break just to kill the game, half ass,” Miller boasts on the simple yet enjoyable “Gees” but there is definitely some effort present, shining through on the unconventionally titled project.
Tracks that effectively teeter on the line between madcap and marketable appear more often than not, with features that habitually feel appropriate however, that doesn’t mean that every guest is great. Another astral instrumental grounded by retrospective lyricism is made less valuable by the presence of Top Dawg Entertainment’s Ab-Soul. “Matches” continues the string of short tracks crammed with a lot on the project. Unfortunately even with Soulo’s appearance, the track doesn’t stand to be anything truly memorable.
On the other hand, tracks that are packed with quality to appreciate do exist. “Bird Call” is short and sweet, giving off the vibe of an interlude. In that same breath, Miller proceeds to pack the infectious instrumental with hooks and crazy bars galore, resulting in a quality piece of the album. “Aquarium” is more of a tame track that shows Mac Miller can prove to be enjoyable without the concept of always being ridiculous but overall there’s not enough of this approach to satisfy.
That is essentially what this project is. Mac Miller has come forward to deliver a long-winded mixture between zany lyricism, diverse instrumentals, personal experiences and reflective yet, idiosyncratic presentation. The fact that it’s wacky at the very least helps keep things from feeling old, but unfortunately the emotions that our enthusiastic artist may express can get lost in the randomness of certain punch lines placed around it, irrevocably pulling a listener out of the moment of empathy they could’ve been approaching with his point. Regardless, whatever Mac Miller is trying to do with Watching Movies With The Sound Off, we know from this that he can do a little of everything well, it’s just not a perfect mixture here.
Timeless Tracks: “I’m Not Real”, “Gees”, “Watching Movies”, “Aquarium”
Pros: A little of everything means something for everyone
Cons: A little of everything means not enough for anyone (A Jack-of-all-trades is a King of None)