Year of the Album — #082
Mac Miller – “Blue Slide Park” (2011, Rostrum Records
It is possible on one hand to see the hedonistic “white-boy awesome” tropes which fill the grooves on Blue Slide Park as simply a reflection of the album’s times. These are the youth of the 99 percent, hoping they can avoid the traps of 9 to 5 drudgery in the hope that they’ll stumble on the secret to living like Donald Trump. But there’s also the distinct sense on this album that Mac Miller is all flash and no substance, equally a product of his times in that he’s here today, gone tomorrow, nothing but a good time you later have to sweat off a hangover to atone for.
He built his reputation on a series of online videos, including those for “Knock Knock” and “Donald Trump.” The former is relentlessly catchy, blending Miller’s laid back b-boy hip-hop styling with a beat built upon the best of 60s bubblegum, but he’s got to bog things down with typical crass misogyny:
Mouth my words, don’t say shit
Shhh … shut up bitch and ride this dick!
I’m just playin’, let’s have a ball!
He goes on to argue that he’s “young fresh and so damn intelligent … I’m actin’ like a gentleman.” I’ll call bullshit on that. But he’s got style and flair, and the videos for his songs are so professionally produced it’s hard to find fault when you’re listening … the flaws float slowly, painfully to the surface as you step back and think about it. Much like the party lifestyle he encourages, Mac Miller’s music is fun while you’re part of the party, and painful when you deal with the aftermath. His aforementioned videos pushed him into the internet hip-hop mainstream to the point where he’s able to launch Blue Slide Park as the #1 album in the nation despite the fact that few people off the internet even know who he is.
Take the album for what it is — an extended party anthem — and you’ll enjoy it while it lasts. There’s nothing here that’s going to put Miller on the path to long-term greatness, but as far as albums go when based on being a YouTube sensation, he does have a good ear for old school samples which he deftly merges with modern hip-hop delivery.
Oddly enough, the songs which made him known on the Internet (the aforementioned “Knock Knock” and “Donald Trump”) are not included on this album. But despite that, “Party on Fifth Ave” and “Frick Park Market” are likely to please the already converted. But there’s nothing particularly fresh to push this into memorable lyrical territory. “I’m heroin ’cause everything I talk is dope,” he raps on the latter, showing a never-ending willingness to pump himself up as the best thing happening in New York, despite the fact that he rarely adds anything of substance to back up the brags.
The song titles tell the story for you. We open up in Blue Slide Park, head to Fifth Ave for the party. If you’re on Mac’s Team you can stay Up All Night Loitering, letting your money burn a Hole in Your Pocket while you show off the Diamonds and Gold you wish you had more of. But because it’s a series of party anthems at its core, Blue Slide Park is all “up,” no moderation, and in the end that prevents Miller from developing any depth or range as an artist. If he ever gets the chance at a second album he’ll either quickly wash out when the party comes to an abrupt end or he’ll attempt to become more of a serious lyricist. Based on this debut it’s impossible to guess whether he’d be able to succeed in that regard … or even whether his fickle young fans would even follow.