Mac Miller & Skill in Verse

Here is a short essay I wrote in high school, junior or sophomore year. A little out dated, but accurate as of 2010/2011ish. Unedited for your comedic pleasure:

Let me begin this by saying that I in fact used to be a giant Mac Miller fan. I haven’t been listening to him since he started making music though, so I’m not going to try and fool you into thinking I was one of those original Mac fans. What I have done is a bit of reading. Malcolm McCormick was born to an architect and a photographer in a largely Jewish neighborhood of east Pittsburgh. At fifteen he essentially dropped out of high school to pursue his hip-hop career. He put out his first mixtape My Mackin’ Aint Easy in 2007, under the name Easy Mac. Three years later I signed on to the band wagon last year when he put out the mixtape K.I.D.S. (Kickin’ Incrediblly Dope Shit) in August of 2010. Today Mac Miller’s catalogue includes an album, an  EP, a six mixtapes, and just as many singles.

On K.I.D.S there was a well developed style. At that point it was pretty obvious that Mac was no amateur. His rhymes were pretty spot on, his singing was fairly melodic, the tone of his verse matched up with the tone of the scores he was rapping over. Mac was great for a kid fresh out of senior year. Tracks like “Senior Skip Day,” and “Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza,” were fun and easy to relate to. On the other side of the coin we heard more emotionally exposing tracks like “All I Want Is You,” where he showed us his softer side. All in all, K.I.D.S. was a well rounded set.This mixtape being my fist introduction to Mac Miller, he showed great talent and greater potential as artist.

Listening to this I thought quite surely that he was close to reaching his true potential as a lyricist. What I mean by that, I think, needs a bit of explanation. Relating to verse–be it written, rapped, or spoken–one’s skill and style reaches a certain plateau of greatness, and levels out. Leveled out should not be taken as to mean that the work is mediocre, but rather as a sort of lyrical enlightenment. This is to be seen among the greats of verse, the all-stars of the closely related worlds of hip-hop, rap, written poetry, and the spoken.

Though verse has not only recently taken a turn for the musical, most of this great verse in the collective memory exists thanks to great hip hop artists, with early names like Big Daddy Kane and LL Cool J, and heavy names today such as Jay Z, Lil Wayne, and Eminem. (I’m sure some of you would like me to name Wu Tang, which is also a great collective of supremely skilled MCs.) Though some may not like these various artist’s style, it’s hard to argue that they are not some of the master’s of their shared craft. These are artists fill the fullest capacity of skill at every level, be it lyrics, sync with the score, rhythm, or rhyme. Though laying verse over music leads to some added dimensions, it is quite comparable to the written poems of yore, by heavily touted artists like Homer, Dante Alighieri, Shakespeare,  and Keats.

I believe that after great toil at the craft, one’s skill culminates to reach that of one’s peers. At that level, it doesn’t really matter who’s best. Each one has their nuances; but no one artist is better than another, just different.

This is the level I was expecting Mac Miller to reach. I expected him to become one of the pantheon of greats in very short order. Just recently, Mac Miller has Put out a couple of singles, one of which being the energetic “Party On Fifth Ave.” Notice I said energetic, which it is, but not great. Don’t get me wrong, Mac’s new stuff isn’t bad, by any means. It’s a great listen, and I recommend you hear his latest work; but it’s just not the same dynamic sort of work that I fell for. “Party On Fifth Ave.,” has quite the catchy beat, and fast paced, almost thrill seeking verse. What it doesn’t account for though are the mellow interludes that were often seen on K.I.D.S.; the interludes that are there though, carry no weight or meaning, they don’t contribute anything to the song. Mac also seems to not rap over the beat, but rather in front of it. He weaves a skillful set of lyrics, but the music seems to be more of an afterthought, almost as if the rap and the beat were matched up randomly.

When I first heard Mac Miller, I was expecting him to get much better over time, but to me he seems to have taken some steps backwards. I still enjoy his music, but I wouldn’t call it art. Mac Miller seems to have lost the soul in his music. His flashy lyrics seem to show that the prowess he had before has been applauded a bit too much, it seems like it’s started to go to his head. It would be a shame to see that potential be wasted due to laziness. I’d like to see the great things he’s capable of producing, but he’s just that much further.