Mac Miller, Watching Movies With the Sound Off | Album Review
On his sophomore album ‘Watching Movies with the Sound Off,’ Mac Miller showcases more maturity compared to his debut album – album cover art aside.
“In kindergarten, used to put some condoms in my cubby / in case one of these hoes tryna fuck me.”
That’s Mac Miller – brash and filled with swagger from a young age. He drops a creatively titled sophomore album with Watching Movies with the Sound Off. Watching Movies with the Sound Off is better and more accomplished than his debut, Blue Slide Park. He steps up his game lyrically and musically. He overindulges in references to drugs and sex, but has more triumphant moments than not.
“The Star Room”
“As time’s a wasting I’m freebasing with freemasons / My girl’s switchin’ the locks, the keys keep changin’.”
“The Star Room” establishes the tone of the album; It’s enigmatic from the jump. On the intro, Miller’s voice is pitch-shifted at a higher-pitch, matching the galactic vibe:
“Hallelujah, thank God I have a future / Prayin’ I don’t waste it gettin’ faded / Cause I’m smoking [bleep], till I’m coughing up tar.”
His one-liners reveal insight. He reflects on drug use and its effects, as well as epitomizing the ‘antithetical’ star. “The Star Room” is a success, regardless of eschewing a hook.
“Avian” possesses ambition, as well as inciting a dash of WTF is going on. A somewhat nonchalant hook appears. A clever wordsmith, Miller opens slickly, if dizzying. His best moment is inappropriate, but he atones:
“Pissed off like a blind person looking for a restroom / Probably be dead soon inhaling cigarette fumes / Sorry for that blind people comment, that was just rude / And I was raised better, say God bless you.”
His collab with Earl Sweatshirt is neither bad nor elite contextually on this stacked album. Sweatshirt’s vocals on the hook could’ve benefited from a volume lift.
Exceptional single “S.D.S.” arrives timely in all its glory, with distinctive production work courtesy of Flying Lotus. Miller rides the beat well throughout. On the first verse, he spits:
“Close my eyes before I cross the street / If a car about to hit me, then he ought to be.”
On the second verse, his reference to David Duchovny proves to be memorable.
“Asian women love me, I look like David Duchovny.”
“S.D.S” ranks among the best.
“I just spit a punchline, now I need a birdcall,” Miller jokes on the brief, punchy “Bird Call.” While he doesn’t escape without a weed reference, it’s a later rhyme that raises eyebrows:
“Yeah, I used to give a fuck about success / Now I just want to see Mila Kunis undress / Posted down for butt sex, it will be a cum fast / sorry that’s some shit I had to confess…”
Yeah… Ab-Soul guests on “Matches,” touting more hardcore rap production compared to previous cuts. Respectable, the record isn’t an outright triumph. Miller admits he wasn’t getting any back when:
“Back in high school none of the hoes was tryna fuck me.”
“I Am Who Am (Killin’ Time)” is a deeper cut, with more luxurious production work. Niki Randa provides a textural vocal companion to Miller’s edgier rhymes.
“Objects in the Mirror”
“Objects in the Mirror” gives Mac Miller a home run. Rather than rap, Miller opts to ‘sing’, showcasing a different side. Thoughtful, he ‘does his thing.’ Pharrell Williams gives him an excellent backdrop. On “Red Dot Music,” up-and-comer Action Bronson is featured. While Miller impresses, Action Bronson drops an obscure reference to the 2009-10 Kentucky Wildcats basketball team.
“Forbidden jungle in the joint paper, point shaver / check the bio, I fixed the game between Kentucky and Miami of Ohio.”
“Gees” and “Watching Movies” kick things up a notch. ScHoolboy Q give Miller a lift on the manic, ballsy, and fresh “Gees.” Miller is obsessed with his penis: “Suck my dick before I slap you with it.” As for Q, he’s even more pervy:
“First class flight, ‘bout to land on a new bitch / She fuck me and swallowed every homie I came with…”
On “Watching Movies”, Miller references a star-studded list that includes Farrah Fawcett, Bernie Madoff, and LL Cool J. His signature line: “When I die, throw a couple bad bitches in my casket.” K.
“Suplexes Inside of Complexes and Duplexes”
Mac Miller switches gears from chicks in caskets to intellectualizing on “Suplexes Inside of Complexes and Duplexes.” Even so, he doesn’t lose his edge:
“Yeah, young sire, slap the fuck out Jon Cryer / Rough rider, raw bust inside a…”
He correctly asserts “…those abstract ideas for sure won’t get you laid…” Jay Electronica truly schools, referencing Ecclesiastes, Stevie Wonder (“My Cherie Amour”), and The Wizard of Oz. Miller is ‘thoughtful’ on “REMember,” dedicated to a friend he lost. Somber and emotional, he proves there’s more to life than fame, sex, and drugs:
“This life moves fast, I never knew that / You wouldn’t have lasted / The dirt hitting your casket, like raindrops…”
A more mature Mac trends onward. “Someone Like You” finds Miller supplying the expected ‘rap-love’ song. On “Aquarium”, he’s poetic:
“Living a blindfold, like where did the time go / I know you hear me out there, can you sign off? / I’m a follow you wherever your mind goes…”
Euphoria is transformed into “Youforia” in Miller’s eyes and world, with a lethargic tempo and appropriate sounds to illustrate the concept. All three songs are good, but don’t match the crème de la crème.
The three bonus tracks stack up well. “Goosebumpz” is valedictory, amped-up by animated production work by Diplo. Miller is at his nastiest and horniest, confidently suggesting, “When I die, I bet she fuck my hologram.” Whoa! “OK” features Tyler, The Creator, who also produces. Tyler does his usual thing, while Miller wishes “Narnia was on a GPS / I wish Rihanna was DTF.” On “Claymation,” featuring Vinny Radio, he’s
“The rawest rapper / baby forehead autographer / On top of Saturn… sending shots from a rocket blaster…”
19 tracks deep, and ample sexual references later, Watching Movies with The Sound Off successfully showcases more maturity from Miller. Sure, he’s still young and definitely focused about his next bedroom escapade, but manages to make even the nastiest, lewd lines. He definitely expands himself compared to Blue Slide Park, a step in the right direction. He keeps it 100.
Gems: “The Star Room,” “S.D.S.,” “Objects in the Mirror,” “Gees,” “Watching Movies,” “REMember” & “Goosebumpz”