Mac Miller’s fourth studio album The Divine Feminine centers around his anecdotes and emotions around love and relationships. Although the title might suggest that he is discussing the the sanctity of the female, the stories he tells are really about his ever-continuing quest for “pussy,” as he says in over half of the songs.
Miller features a few notable artists, including Anderson .Paak, Cee-Lo Green, Ariana Grande and (King) Kendrick Lamar. These voices, along with Miller’s own monotone-slow rap, go perfectly with the jazzy-sounding backing music to create a groovy vibe.
To me, this vibe is the best part of the album; Miller utilizes strings, horns, saxophones, guitar and bass with minimal electronic sounds. The beats sound genuine and, in each song, unique. Since Miller’s style of rapping is slow, the music is a major part of all of his tracks, as they heighten the mood his lyrics aim to produce. The instruments are played in a way in which they seamlessly weave in and out of Miller’s speaking without overloading the listener’s senses with distracting sounds that would detract from his lyrics.
To further his variety of sound, each of the features brings something different to the track, whether it’s .Paak’s melodic jazz, Grande’s falsetto or K. Dot’s classic outlandish voice. Even when there aren’t features, Mac finds a way to bring something new and unexpected to the track. For example, in “Stay,” the chorus is bombarded by a church choir.
Although he excels in these aspects, the biggest vocal problem on this album is that his execution of his lyrics is mediocre at best. Miller does not enunciate at all and that makes him sound lethargic, like he’s not interested in what he’s recording. His flow is also pretty much the same throughout all of the songs. By “flow,” I mean his lack of flow; seldom does he change how he speaks nor does he make rhythms with his voice. It sounds like Miller is just talking. That is just his style, and it takes away from his musicality and his message of divinity.
Speaking of divinity, what Miller is trying to portray is not the feminine divinity in a spiritual and pure sense, but rather the essential connection that can only be found with a female (in heterosexual males). He means no disrespect to women as he talks about how he loves them and how he loves having sex with them. The whole point is that we as humans depend on love to cope with the world around us. The Divine Feminine as a title does not inspire this theme, as Mac is not worshiping female entities, but is simply telling us his experiences with being in love and in relationships with females.
The production for the 10 tracks was stupendous with only one significant hiccup. In the song “Dang,” there is a part that sounds like two recordings had been put together, but with a connection that isn’t smooth. There is an extra bit of a beat in the song which is really sloppy on the production’s part. Other than that, the instruments and vocals were mixed fantastically with no “why did they do that” moments.
As soon as I saw that Lamar was being featured, I was pumped. “God is Fair, Sexy Nasty” was the strongest track on this album, and not only because of K. Dot’s appearance. Miller’s verses are as intricate as ever in this song, and with Lamar there to add his own genius to the mix, the track is great.
The variety of music and vocals is incredible, and they work with Miller’s voice to enhance his message of the importance of love. Unfortunately, his lyricism and obsession with talking about female genitalia dragged him down a bit. The Divine Feminine receives a six and a half out of 10. If you’re a fan, I expect that you’ll like this album, but if you’ve come across the album wondering if you would enjoy Miller, at the very least I would recommend that you play “God is Fair, Sexy Nasty” and decide for yourself if Mac Miller is your kind of rap.
Contact CU Independent Arts Writer Benjamin Vernon at Benjamin.Vernon@colorado.edu