Mac Miller’s major label debut displays lyrical talent, newfound optimism

Chris Duncan

Since his debut in 2007, Mac Miller’s name has been synonymous with mediocre party music. His massive catalogue focused far too much on quantity over quality, but his major label debut, GO:OD AM, looks to change that.

Miller burst onto the rap scene at 15 years old, bringing with him an energetic production style and fast-paced lyrics in an attempt to stand out from the cluttered hip hop scene. His debut album, Blue Slide Park, showed promise but wasn’t memorable. Watching Movies with the Sound Off, his sophomore effort, better established Miller’s reputation as an up-and-coming lyricist. But GO:OD AM, released Friday, fully rebuffs Miller’s former frat-performer style and displays him as a more introspective rapper.

GO:OD AM’s lead track, “Doors,” sets the tone for the entire album. While Tyler, The Creator’s symphonic beat stands out, Miller’s poetic style takes center stage as he copes with his struggles with addiction and fame. During the track’s bridge, Miller reflects on his past and the opportunities he’s squandered, singing, “These doors will close, and people change, One day you’ll go, right now you’re here, No, please don’t just hear, don’t disappear.”

Throughout the project, Miller openly addresses his issues confidently. In the record’s second single, “Break the Law,” Miller acknowledges his downfalls but touts his persona, bragging he “killed the game like Jeffry Dahmer did the ’80s.” His verses continue to flow with ease, especially on “100 Grandkids,” where Miller confronts family and money.

Now that Miller is sober, it seems as if his outlook on success has given his music an optimistic perspective. The majority of the LP’s tracks revolve around his former drug use, but look forward toward the rebirth of his career. The album’s title represents a new beginning, and many of the songs on this album show it.

But not every song exhibits that optimistic outlook. A couple of tracks on GO:OD AM stray from Miller’s newfound confident attitude as he reverts to his formerly ignorant and cocky persona. The worst track on the album, “Cut the Check,” features dull drum machines and a weak guest verse from Chief Keef. Miller’s repetitive verse hinders the song’s flow even more, making it an unbearable three minutes.

Lyrics and themes aside, the most surprising aspect of this album is the production quality. Most songs forgo the typical high-speed production of previous Miller releases, finding a slightly slower but still exciting pace. “Break the Law” features the talents of Drew Bryd and Thundercat at their best, but the highlight of the album is DJ Dahi’s beats on “ROS.” The piano-driven instrumentation starts the song off at a crawling pace but establishes an ominous mood that accompanies Miller’s emotional vocal performance perfectly.

By the end of the 70-minute album, some listeners might get tired of Miller’s occasionally monotonous content. Ignoring its repetitive nature, powerful lyrics combined with quality production efforts make the album an all-encompassing experience. GO:OD AM is one of the most astounding and easily the best release of Miller’s career, showing he has the talent to stand beside some of the biggest names in rap music.