Mac Miller – Blue Slide Park
Record Label: Rostrum
Release Date: November 8 2011
They say that curiosity killed the cat, but sometimes, a mere curiosity can lead to one of the best discoveries. For example, my favorite band is Fall Out Boy, and I discovered them, thanks to sheer curiosity. It was the winter of 2007 and I had just gotten into music, and I had heard about Fall Out Boy’s new record Infinity On High being released, but knew absolutely nothing about them. I decided to pick it up, and voila, I ended up falling in love with their music. Even today, that record remains the first record that I truly fell in love with and the record that made me look at music differently. It’s the record that made me truly interested and excited about music. If that record didn’t exist, I highly doubt I’d be into music today. It’s a curiosity like that that, well, can really change someone’s life. In my case, I would say it’s a huge life-changing experience, because music is so important to me, and I most likely wouldn’t look at it the same way without it. On the flip side, there are other discoveries, like the time I first discovered electro-pop duo Blood On the Dance Floor. They’re the epitome of what terrible music is, at least in my opinion, so I didn’t have an enjoyable time first hearing them. Every so often, though, there’s a curiosity that isn’t too bad, but not life-changing, either. In fact, it may even be surprising, meaning that you may listen to an artist/band you thought you didn’t like, but end up do enjoying. That’s the case with PA rapper Mac Miller. If I time traveled back to 2010, and told myself that I would eventually start getting much more into hip-hop, I would’ve laughed at myself, and disregarded it. It’s sad to say, I know, but I always used to be one of those kids who was real “edgy” and never really liked hip-hop much. Well, that changed with a few certain rappers, such as Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar, who showed me that rap music isn’t all bad, and it’s worth getting into. Mac Miller is a rapper I’ve heard about a lot, and up until I heard debut record Blue Slide Park, I always disregarded, because I just assumed he was a mainstream rapper who had nothing to offer. Well, after picking up Blue Slide Park, which is a nickname for a park in his hometown, I was pleasantly surprised.
I probably should explain why this isn’t a life changing discovery, though, and to put it simply, it’s because while I enjoy this record, it’s definitely not perfect. I was surprised mainly in the fact that I thought he was awful, and he would have nothing redeemable, but he does. A lot of things, actually. For a hip-hop record, I was quite satisfied, even if there were some songs that didn’t do much for me, which I’ll certainly talk about later on, but what hit, really hit. Hip-hop/rap is one of those genres that really never interested me much, not because it’s awful, but just because I really never really connected with it. I’m the kind of music fan who wants to get into music that I can connect with somehow. As in, I can hear the lyrics and interpret them or relate to them in some way, even if it’s not the way the artist/band intended. If I can relate to a song, or connect with it in some way, I’m certainly hooked. But with hip-hop, mainly “mainstream” hip-hop, I could never really connect with it. I’ve also really never enjoyed lyrics about partying, drugs, alcohol, etc, etc. I don’t mind them much anymore, even if I don’t do that kinda thing at all. The point is, though, there are some artists out there that do connect with me, and I’m speaking about hip-hop. When I heard Blue Slide Park, it did kind of connect with me. Not every song, however. The best way to describe the record is a “party” record, meaning that a lot of the songs are about how awesome Mac Miller is (which is kinda true), and how he’s having a good time, and just wants to relax. Some of these songs are very enjoyable, such as lead single, “Frick Park Market,” which is one of my favorites on the record, and “Party On Fifth Ave,” “Smile Back,” and “Up All Night.” These songs sum up his laidback, fun style of rap and hip-hop. At least, on this record, anyway. There are some more “serious” songs on the record as well, such as “PA Nights,” “Under the Weather,” and “Missed Calls.” The latter is another one of my favorite tracks, actually. Sadly, though, since the record is 16 songs long (only clocking in at around 46 minutes, however), there are some “filler” tracks. These are the tracks that aren’t very memorable. Tracks like “Of the Soul,” “Loitering,” “Diamonds and Gold,” and “Man In the Hat” aren’t horrible tracks, but they just don’t really entice me in the way that “Frick Park Market does.” Maybe it’s because Miller’s at his best with a track like that, and he’s on fire, so to speak.
I mentioned a bit earlier that it’s hard for me to connect with a genre like hip-hop, because of its lyrics, mainly. Well, how do the lyrics of Blue Slide Park hold up? Not too shabbily, actually. Granted, there are some lines that made me cringe, but there are others that made me snicker, smile, or even think it was clever. The one lyric from Miller that I’ve always remembered was a line from “Frick Park Market,” actually, that goes, “I ain’t no hipster, girl, I can make your hips stir.” I’ll admit that line is rather silly, but it’s a line that made me snicker. On the contrary, I mentioned the song “Missed Calls,” and this song shows Miller at his most vulnerable, because it talks about a dysfunctional relationship with a woman that Miller was having, and how he thinks it’s better if they go their separate ways. It’s a rather hard hitting track, and it’s always nice to see a rapper like him, who’s got his fair share of laidback tracks, get a bit personal, even if it’s for a song or two. The whole vibe of the record isn’t personal, however. It’s rather arrogant, and self-obsessed, but it’s not done in a “Look at me, look how great I am” kind of way, but more so, Miller just wants to have a good time, and he talks about that without rubbing it in peoples’ faces that he finally has had some success. I’m rather mixed on this record, personally, because while the songs that hit really do hit, there are much more “filler” tracks that genuinely awesome tracks. The filler tracks aren’t bad, but they just pass me by, because they talk about the same things or just don’t have any interesting arrangements or lyrics in them. Overall, it’s a solid record, but it’s not a record that’s going to change the way I look at music, or anything.