We first highlighted Malcolm McCormick aka Mac Miller to you as one artist to watch at the start of the year and since then, we have documented his stratospheric rise to super stardom over the months that proceeded – from sold out concerts to heavy mixtape releases and sharp visual content, to garnering over a million followers on twitter. On November 8 the Pittsburgh native – an independent artist in every sense of the world – released his hugely anticipated debut album Blue Slide Park.
The LP is already projected to be well on its way to landing the number one spot on the US Billboard album charts by this time next week with projected 100K first week sales; a feat that will put Mac Miller firmly in the history books as the first rap artist in 15 years to achieve a Billboard number one album independently, preceded only by Snoop Dogg affiliates Tha Dogg Pound with their debut album Dogg Food way back in 1995.
Accolades aside however, Mac Miller’s Blue Slide Park is not a very strong debut album from the 19-year old spitter – and compared to the slew of mainstream Hip Hop albums that will be standing next to this one on the Billboard 200 when it debuts on the charts, Blue Slide Park stands out like a sore thumb. More specifically, compared to Mac Miller’s earlier projects – the K.I.D.S mixtape for one – his debut album falls quite short of expectation.
Yes Mac Miller is a decent rhymer – that has been well documented – but this album proves that it will take more than his current lyrical dexterity to make a strong enough album. “PA Nights,” “My Team” and “Loitering” are prime examples of how Mac Miller doesn’t quite succeed in fulfilling the full potential of the songs on Blue Slide Park; the production is quality and his flow cannot be denied but the kid is never really saying anything on these records, that you end up just wanting to skip unto the next one and then unto the next one.
There are a few noteworthy songs on the album that are worth checking out and have the utmost potential to grow on me and on this “noteworthy” list; I would mention the Ritz Reynolds-produced “Missed Call,” the I.D Labs/Ritz Reynolds-produced “Man In The Hat” and “One Last Thing.” Incidentally these are the last three tracks of the album so you literally have to go through 13 other songs to get to anything worthy of note on Blue Slide Park - and by worthy of note, I mean songs upon which Mac Miller steps up his game lyrically to match the excellent backdrops that have been provided.
Looking back over the entire album, there are indeed other marginally good songs on the album, notably the lead singles “Frick Park Market” and “Smile Back,” as well as the album’s title track which – for all intents and purposes – are all 100% bangers, even though you cannot help but wonder what “Smile Back” would sound like if the beat didn’t overpower Mac so much on that record.
Speaking about bangers though, musically is where this album wins – and by “wins,” I mean it really and truly excels. I.D Lab [who produces most of the album], Ritz Reynolds and Clams Casino are the prominent names on the production credits of Blue Slide Park and if the rest of this review could be spent talking about the amazing production on this album, it definitely would. Mac Miller could not ask for any better collection of musical backdrops for his debut. It’s such a shame that he cannot do some of these beats the justice that they deserve and, sometimes, they end up showing up his frailties as an emcee more than anything else (case in point, “Smile Back”).
Mac Miller’s ineptness at making full songs is severely exposed on this album and, having listened to Blue Slide Park a good few times, I’d be hard pressed to mention any songs that will leave a lasting impression on the listener, despite the odd bright spots here and there mentioned above.
Having said all of that, Blue Slide Park is an album that Mac Miller’s core fanbase will enjoy – not because it’s a good record, rather because Mac Miller and his Most Dope movement represent something more than the music to these fans plus they are not checking for lyrics, content, flow or any of those things, they just want to party and have a good time and there is a handful of listenable material on this album for them to enjoy and party to such as “Up All Night” and the Doug E. Fresh-sampling “Party on Fifth Ave”.
It is also commendable that Blue Slide Park attempts to diversify – on the odd occasion – from the partying songs that have become synonymous with Mac Miller recently, and it is based on this that “Diamonds and Gold” should certainly get a special mention. Overall though, if you’re not already a fan of Mac Miller, Blue Slide Park is not the record that converts you.