“The Divine Feminine” is an album about love made up of love songs, something Mac Miller hasn’t produced a lot of recently. The album also spotlights new directions and Miller’s attempt at shedding his juvenile persona.
Miller’s fourth album, released Sept. 16, is all about suave rhythms and melodies with a decidedly smooth-jazz feel, consistently featuring big band-style trumpets, grooving bass lines and funk-driven guitar. “The Divine Feminine” draws clear influence from various artists as Miller explores a new, mature sound.
While I’ve never been a Mac Miller fan myself, not for lack of trying, I found myself grooving to this album, though not entirely due to the rhymes of Miller. The vibe of “The Divine Feminine” fits a chill night in, or the perfect background noise for studying. The album is easy to listen to and not particularly thought-provoking.
Miller has been attempting to progress away from the party-boy persona he first established in his 2011 debut on the rap scene. “The Divine Feminine” is a step toward revamping his profile as a more serious artist. While some of his lyrics are still reminiscent of a belligerent past, the overall vibe of this album is a gesture in the right direction.
Miller combines a jazzy, relaxed, Chance the Rapper vibe with smooth verses a la G-Eazy in 10 consistent songs featuring a variety of guest artists.
“Dang!” featuring Anderson .Paak, perhaps the most redeeming track on the album, steadily grooves with .Paak’s smooth vocals accompanied by big-band brass and a gliding guitar line. The song is punctuated with signature Mac Miller-style rhymes that blend remarkably well with the overall vibe of the tune.
Following “Dang!” is “Stay,” a decidedly Chance the Rapper-influenced tune featuring a solo trumpet paired with a classic hip-hop beat that echoes the “Coloring Book” feel. Miller’s rhymes glide over the top of the established back in a crooning love poem which is rather unremarkable.
Other artists featured on the album include Ty Dolla $ign, CeeLo Green, Kendrick Lamar and Ariana Grande. Each collaboration lets the featured artist’s style show through in specks, which brings much-needed variety to the album as a whole. “God is Fair, Sexy, Nasty” featuring Kendrick Lamar allows his signature edgy, rhythmic sound to show through while, “My Favorite Part” featuring Ariana Grande displays Grande’s vocal prowess and classic style.
While the album displays Miller’s tendency toward a new, more refined sound, it doesn’t show a full, successful transition. He shows motion in the right direction, but still has a ways to go.
Despite well-produced beats and an easy vibe, “The Divine Feminine” is still strides away from a reputable hip-hop album. Miller’s lines are still decidedly immature and slightly underwhelming, despite the grooving undertones heard in the melodies. The album shows Miller’s growth, creativity, relaxed flow and some groove, but can’t be considered a hip-hop masterpiece.