As an artist who has established a reputation for balancing vocal melody with hip hop, in addition to his ability to write for and appeal to the most current desires of rap audiences, Mac Miller has again replied to your missed calls. This time with The Divine Feminine.
In a departure from earlier records and mixtapes, and even 2015’s “GO:OD AM,” which felt less alternative than usual with its heavy drum beats, aggressive rhymes, and hardcore lyrics, Miller’s most recent outing shows us a maturing, far post-collegiate musician.
Feminine listens like a carefully crafted love letter and, opening with “Congratulations” featuring Bilal, it wastes no time in setting the mood. “Congratulations” could best be interpreted as a serenade with a backdrop of cascading piano keys. Once Bilal has finished well… being Bilal, Miller sits on the other side of a soulful violin bridge with a conversation-like emotional appeal. “Dang!” continues the theme but gives you something to bounce to in (for my money) what’s easily the most repeat-able selection of the 10. The high production value becomes increasingly evident with each track by way of what appears to be a deliberate dedication to the fusion of modern technique and traditional instruments.
The two kingmakers, “My Favorite Part” and “God is Fair, Sexy Nasty” conclude the fare, and the track selection/ordering couldn’t have been more satisfying. The songs feature Ariana Grande and Kendrick Lamar respectively and each artist turns in a performance worthy of their own solo projects. Grande’s top tier vocals and Lamar’s charm offer just enough to enhance, but allow Miller to remain the star of the show.
The Divine Feminine is as sexy and soft around the edges as the femininity to which it eludes. While it’s rare for any mainstream artist to produce an entire body of work steered toward this sort of expression, especially within hip hop (Drake excluded), Miller does it without sacrificing the demeanor and attitude his fans expect, know, and adore. The tone expressed is yet another side of Miller’s eight-sided dice that I predict listeners will use in their own role-playing games for many days to come.