It’s Monday afternoon and the rumored Drake and Future mixtape that sent the internet into a chaotic frenzy last week is still just a rumor. The hype train barely got on the tracks before derailing, the internet once again created a myth and I fell into the trap. My disappointment didn’t last long though thanks to the very real and highly anticipated Mac Miller GO:OD AM album appearing last night on NPR, streamed a week before it's purchase date. It feels like Mac, being the Good Samaritan that he is, decided to bless us when the 6 God and Future Hendrix didn’t. Bless him.
Mac Miller made me a fan with WMWTSO and Faces, I’m expecting GO:OD AM to solidify him as an emcee that can stand amongst the top dogs. If it meets my imaginary expectations, I might just walk away with a new favorite rapper. That's how much I believe in his potential. There’s no denying he’s been improving with every release, all his progression has been leading up to this very moment. This is also his first album on a major label, I’m interested in hearing if that has had any influence on his music. He went through a sincerely dark period that turned his music from frat rap into a bacchanal drug binge that asked a lot of questions but gave very few answers. As his life got darker, the music got better. His lyricism became potent as the cocaine ascending up his nostrils, the drugs mused his best material, as a fan it was conflicting to worry about his wellbeing and desire more.
It’s been two years since his last studio album, the hard drugs have been defeated and Mac Miller seems more focused than ever. GO:OD AM is the album he selected as his big album among eight other releases, how he decided is something I will always wonder. I’ve avoided almost all the singles released, this is an album I wanted to hear for the first time from front to back. I’m amped, I’m excited, there’s a part of me that knows Mac will not let me down. This is the one.
As per 1 Listen rules...I'm not allowed to pause or rewind the album, this is purely my stream-of-consciousness, gut reaction to the album as it plays in its entirety. I'll revisit the album in a few months when I can really measure its impact. Let's do the damn thing.
“Doors” (prod. Tyler The Creator)
The synths are beautiful. It’s amazing that Tyler was on the bonus track of WMWTSO and is now on the introduction. Hopefully he begins to get more placements. Mac is singing from the depth of his soul, this is extremely elegant. A good morning from what sounds like a beautiful woman and an alarm clock to start the album off. Lets GO!
“Brand Name” (prod. ID Labs)
I’m loving the soulfulness thus far. ID Labs came through with the heat rock. Mac is bringing the bars, he just mentioned the 27 Club. The production is reason enough to bring this one back, the transitions are nice, and Mac is switching flows like Chief Keef switching lanes in a Lambo. I don’t like the hook, it sounds like way too much going on. Other than that, this is good, really good. The ending is just coasting, the breakdown is graceful, like a swan walking on water. WOOO, a nice piano to close out this track.
“Rush Hour” (prod. ID Labs)
Word to Chris Tucker. Mac is floating, he has truly found his voice as a rapper. “The world don’t give a fuck about your loneliness” – damn right. WOOOOO, he just referenced Jackie and Chris, who produced this? It’s smooth enough to slip and slide across. This could’ve been on Faces, which is a compliment. Oh, a radio skit intermission. Whose voice is this? He sounds… familiar. Well, on the whole that was… okay.
“Two Matches” ft. Ab-Soul (prod. Soundwave)
Mac Miller and Soundwave, I’m here for it. SOULO! This is not These Days Ab-Soul, this is the Ab that made me a fan. This is the Ab-Soul for all of us that have been riding since Longterm 2. It’s easy to get absorbed in Mac’s verses, he’s really spitting all over this album and I'm only four songs in. This is solid but it doesn’t quite carry the energy of the previous records. The hook could’ve been tighter but I’ll be returning.
“100 Grandkids” (prod. Sha Money XL, Big Jerm)
This is the only song I’ve heard from the album and I love it. It’s common to be sick of the single by the time the album is released but this is not the case. “What’s a god without a little OD?” Only an addict would think of something so clever. Mac truly sounds like he enjoys rapping, after all these years it hasn’t become work yet. When the beat switches and the drums kick in, my soul Harlem shakes. So glad Big Jerm is still working with Mac, these two are magic together.
“Time Flies” ft. Lil B (prod. Christian Rich)
Based God! Mac is doing a figure eight over these hazy synths. Is that a flute? This has to be self-produced. Only Larry Fisherman can make something so weird yet compelling. Lil B is delivering the Based Scriptures. Not bars, just the gospel. This might be an early favorite. This is way too short. Can I rewind? I need these based scriptures in my life. No, don’t go…don’t go. PAC!
“Weekend” ft. Miguel
Featuring Miguel? This has to be one for the radio. I’m loving the production on this album, it’s so calm and polished. With each passing song, this album only gets better. It has yet to get cheesy or dull. Mac can create a catchy hook and fill the verses with dense, deep content. This is not for the radio, it will hit you right in the chest. “Fell asleep and forgot to die” whoooooooaaaa. Mac is tapping into the feels and Miguel has yet to sing a note. Speak of the devil, Miguel is bringing the gospel. THE GUITAR STRINGS!
“Clubhouse” (prod. Rick Bricks of THC)
I’m still trying to recover from the previous song. Mac Miller and Rick of THC, he really went all out in bringing in the right producers. “Came for the steak and left with the cow.” "Clubhouse" is definitely one of the more fun records. I’m sold.
“In The Bag” (prod. Sevn Thomas)
Hahaha, Jasper from Odd Future at the beginning. He kind of structured the album like GKMC with these skits. This is the one you play at ignorant volumes, this is the first turn up record. A banger. High spirited, the beat is knocking like a landlord when rent is three weeks overdue. Live, this record is going to set the fire alarms off. Quotables on quotables but most importantly, “This is the music that makes white people mad.” ScHoolboy Q at the end with a skit. Hahaha.
“Break the Law” (prod. Drew Byrd, Thundercat)
Get high and break the laws. The album is coming alive, another banger, the soundscape has changed from lush to exuberant. This needs a Rick Ross grunt and a full Juicy J verse. This is just too good. I might have to go break the law. Juicy J’s random appearances really should have been a verse.
"Perfect Circle / God Speed" (prod. Frank Dukes)
A church choir? These drums are dirty, the complete opposite of the holy singers in the background. The production is intricate, I zoned out and can barely keep up with Mac. He’s acknowledging his drug habit, very confessional. I can’t wait to rewind this, this is definitely a highlight. This entire record is constantly changing, it sounds like a kid church choir singing the bridge. Voicemail skit, transitioning into "God Speed." Another beautiful instrumental. Pouring out my soul raps. The emotion. Yeah, this is a standout. Another skit centering around the morning and waking up. This is the third one I think. A piano laden beat to close it out. He raised the musicality on this album.
“When In Rome” (prod. ID Labs, Sledgren)
The album could have closed there but I’m not complaining. The beat dropped and I almost jumped out my skin, if this would’ve came after “Break The Law” I would’ve lost my mind. Energetic Mac might be better than sullen Mac. “I’m going ape shit on all of my versus” – a very true boast. This is a rap album.
“ROS” (prod. DJ Dahi)
Even the long songs end too soon. Another change of pace, Mac is playing the piano and talking to an audience about love. Could this have been recorded live? It sort of sounds like it. Mac is on his Robin Thicke, probably could’ve done without this cut but it’s cute in a “I love my girlfriend” sorta-of-way. I love how the record progressed, sonically it's a completely different record from how it began.
“Cut The Check” ft. Chief Keef (prod. Vinylz)
We back, Mac didn’t miss a step, from bellowing about love to demanding the check to be cut, my kind of rapper. Chief Keef is rapping really fucking well. He’s actually clear, like articulating words. I’m so amazed. Is this what the last Keef album sounded like? I will download that. What is going on? How did Mac Miller do this?
“Ascension” (prod. ID Labs)
This album has put me through so many emotions. I need a water break. This is another gorgeous instrumental. If he didn’t rap on this I wouldn’t be mad. My favorite song just changed again. This is a record. “What’s between heaven and hell?” If Faces was full of questions, "Ascension" has the answers. There’s no denying that Mac Miller can make records. This is incredible. The amount of growth and maturity on a record like this shows how far he has come.
“Jump” (prod. Sap, ID Labs)
The album still isn’t done but it doesn’t feel extremely long winded. I like this, for a long album, he keeps it fresh. It has yet to get repetitive. WOOOO, the beat breakdown was nasty. I can’t wait for the production credits to be released in full, props must be given. There’s only so many ways I can reiterate how well he’s rapping. I’m really ready for him to hit a slacking point.
“The Festival” ft. Little Dragon (prod. ID Labs)
Mac Miller and Little Dragon, this is an interesting combination. Expected this to sound more festive, very mellow and introspective. She sings with the softness of a bag of marshmallows. This is such an odd song to end on, I’m not really sure if I like it or not. The vibe is just... strange. One final skit to close out the album. “I tell my wife I’m so proud of him, I tell my girlfriend I’m so proud of him” hahahaha.
I prefer my albums to be Illmatic length so Mac was really pushing his luck with 17 records, but I must say, he kept my attention up until the very end. Off one listen, I’m ready to dive back in. He made the kind of album that is truly top tier, from production to lyricism. There’s a voice in my head that’s been yelling the entire time, “This is his best work yet!” It might be too soon to call, I will say this is the album I wanted WMWTSO to be. GO:OD AM is his biggest leap forward. This is the one, it’s full of introspection and honesty, strong features and stronger instrumentals. Plus, Mac is rapping like he has something to prove, claiming his estate in this giant rap world. The barrage of bars he delivered will surely be quoted for the remainder of the year. This is the one, the album that finally says, Mac Miller has arrived.
[By Yoh, aka YO:H, aka @Yoh31]