Mac Miller Watching Movies with the Sound Off

Mac MillerWatching Movies with the Sound Off
Heart is no longer an expectation within the realms of contemporary music. Yet that's exactly what has allowed this fun-loving Jewish kid from Pittsburgh, Mac Miller, to create his exceptional sophomore album, Watching Movies with the Sound Off. He cleverly employs a credible list of guests, including Earl Sweatshirt and Jay Electronica, using them as the framework for something he's always been great at: rapping his ass off. On "Avian," his stream-of-consciousness verses can barely be spliced into lines, as he whizzes by possible punch lines ("naked walking in the garden and bird watching/alarming all of these cardinals like I need a pope") with confident nonchalance. Production is his trump card though, as his development behind the boards is reinforced by aces Clams Casino, Pharrell and Flying friggin' Lotus, excellently exploited by Mac and company at every turn. Even the few missteps are drenched in ambition; his attempts to broaden his subject-matter with "Someone Like You," a thoughtful love song, and "O.K.," a crass booty-shaker featuring Tyler, The Creator, subtract from the record's cohesiveness while adding to its exorbitant run time. Still, the huge strides he's made between 2011's Blue Slide Park and this release exemplify the reverence he has for what he does and the hard work he dedicates to it. Mac Miller emphatically joins a higher tier of rap artists with Watching Movies, an effort that at once silences his detractors and rewards his faithful following. (Rostrum)