Album Review: Mac Miller - Swimming
During the summer between leaving college and heading to university, I ended up taking a paper round out of boredom and desperation for money. That lackadaisical summer was spent pedalling around Leicester, delivering newspapers and exploring my taste in music for the first time ever. The biggest revelation was that I enjoyed rap and hip-hop, which was born from my discovery of an up and coming artist called Mac Miller.
His debut mixtape, Best Day Ever, including killer single Donald Trump hooked me instantly and his talent for writing a banger continued throughout his career until his final album, Swimming.
The album received a good deal of press in the run-up to its release, unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. Mac had recently broken up with mega-starlet Ariana Grande and had been involved in a recent DUI arrest. Many expected the album to be Mac’s thoughts on the breakup or maybe even an attack on his ex. Instead, Mac released a thoughtful. reserved and introspective album that takes bold experimental risks whilst exploring his headspace. Now, in light of his recent death, the album very much reads like his sign off.
Album opener Come Back to Earth sets the tone. Mac experiments with singing over synths and keys, whilst he lays out his regretful mindset and his need for a break. “I just need a way out, of my head/I’d do anything for a way out, of my head.” Hurt Feelings feels like Mac accepting the flow of life – a force that can’t be resisted, no matter what a person does. He also addresses that the fact that, no matter who he’s with or working with, just because they might disregard him, this doesn’t negate his worth as a person.
Swimming‘s true worth comes from the experimentation and growth on show. Mac’s efforts to detail his struggles, mindset and attempts to improve himself were touching upon release and feel all the more tragic following his death.
– Sam Brookes
What’s The Use is one of the album’s first true standouts. Mac shows his talent as an artist, rapping over the top of a funk track. His lyrics deal with his history with addiction and the existential fears that feed into his battle. Does he need drugs and alcohol? Does it matter if he relapses? Does it affect his talent in a positive or negative way or can it be both? The album’s other standout, Self Care is widely perceived to be a response to Ariana Grande’s comments about her “toxic relationship” with Miller, in which she mentions that he is incapable of looking after himself. Rather than the usual trade of barbs via a track, Mac details his efforts to get better at taking care of himself. The track and its haunting music video featuring Mac buried alive now have a feeling of a premonition about them.
The album is by no means perfect. In my opinion, its about three tracks too long, with some of the mid-album tracks like Wings tripping up the pacing of the album. That being said, there are a few tracks after the first half like Small Word & Jet Fuel that are worthy of note.
Swimming‘s true worth comes from the experimentation and growth on show. Mac’s efforts to detail his struggles, mindset and attempts to improve himself were touching upon release and feel all the more tragic following his death. It’s a true joy to see an artist, who could easily have been written off as another bro-down rapper all those years ago, showing off his talents as a vocalist as well as his taste, which makes Swimming one of the most enjoyable and poignant albums of the year.
The Breakdown | Album Review: Mac Miller – Swimming
It’s a true joy to see an artist, who could easily have been written off as another bro-down rapper all those years ago, showing off his talents as a vocalist as well as his taste, which makes Swimming one of the most enjoyable and poignant albums of the year.