4:14 PM EDT, March 15, 2011
Best Day Ever, Rostrum
Rating: 1.5 stars out of 4
The cornerstones of Mac Miller’s raps are weed, women and partying. It lacks sophistication but that’s the point: this is the world of a fun-loving, fast-rising 19-year-old rapper. If there’s an acceptable time to indulge, these on-the-cusp-of-adulthood years are primetime.
A white Pittsburgh native and Wiz Khalifa cohort, Miller saw blog love — earned off the strength of last year’s eye-opening mixtape K.I.D.S. — turn into mainstream press when he graced XXL’s annual “Freshmen” cover in February. It wasn’t long before the hip-hop peanut gallery labeled Mac as the next big thing, based on his in-vogue stoned-slacker appeal. (He’s often greeted with his Most Dope crew’s hand symbol, a thumbs-up, because “everything is all good.”)
Best Day Ever, released for free download last Friday, is Mac’s fourth mixtape in three years, and it sounds like a rushed cash-in and a possible sign of creative fatigue. Mac may sense his time to strike big is now, but Best Day Ever offers evidence of wide-range support coming too early.
K.I.D.S. was better than it had to be and flat-out addictive, with its nods to rap’s forefathers (the Nas-sampling “Nikes on My Feet;” Mac rhymes over an old Lord Finesse beat on "Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza") and pop jams you’d actually play at a keg party (“Senior Skip Day,” “The Spins”). His rapping was always pedestrian, but the songs’ charms overshadowed the skill set. Best Day Ever, on the other hand, shoves Mac’s rhyming to the forefront, magnifying his monotonous flow and my second thoughts.
Mac’s in-the-pocket elementary flow was catchy on K.I.D.S. but it’s intolerable by Best Day Ever’s midway-point, unless you happily stomach “My swagger call me ‘Old Spice’/Yeah, the kid is so nice” punchlines. And when the rhymes aren’t the issue, it’s the production: “Wear My Hat,” the tape’s weakest song, wears a Sublime-Lite groove with weak drums and a fuzzy bassline; “In the Air” sounds like a Postal Service knockoff with a non-existent backbeat; throwback “Play Ya Cards Right” apes ’80s hip-hop more than it honors it.
The best tracks marry Mac’s strengths — earworm hooks, earnest thoughts — with ease, like logical progressions from K.I.D.S. “She Said” has the grimy drums Mac thrives on, “Oy Vey” is too silly and well executed to hate and Mac’s mom ode, “I’ll Be There,” works in its detail (“You were at my games when I was sitting on the bench”). These moments are fleeting, thanks to the excess of toothless party songs. The goodwill Mac earned from K.I.D.S. is now a tarnished memory, replaced with the sneaking suspicion we’ve been duped.
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