Mac Miller brings a totally new feel to his already familiar voice and flow, adding to the new hip-hop/rap trend of using real instruments, as well as elements of jazz and classical music to his songs.
His new record, The Divine Feminine, is a smooth blend of jazz and classical music that bodes well with Miller’s style of rap. There are also a number of notable features, including rappers Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak and Ty Dolla $ign. Singers Cee Lo Green and Ariana Grande compliment both the style of the record and Miller’s approach to the album.
One of the more impressive aspects of the record is the use of real instruments. The entire first song, “Congratulations,” is simply classic piano and melodies with no beat whatsoever. This trend of using classical piano, trumpets and acoustic guitar, amongst other instruments, proves Miller’s range as an artist. The uncommon combination of jazz and classical music mixed with Miller’s genre of rap gives the record its unique sound.
Another element that gives this album its own feel is the artist’s approach to rap. Miller is known for his unique spoken word rapping style and flow that stays true to himself. From his old mixtapes, like K.I.D.S and Best Day Ever, to this new record, Miller’s flow remains the same throughout. Miller often uses spoken rap and, at times, even sings and harmonizes, but the majority of the record is filled with his familiar flow that has stuck with him over the years. This is one of the more interesting elements of The Divine Feminine: Miller is able to bring his career-spanning flow to accompany this newer style of rap using real instruments.
Miller’s unique approach to rap is evident in songs like “Congratulations,” “Stay,” “Skin,” “My Favorite Part” and “God is Fair, Sexy Nasty.” These songs all contain elements of jazz and/or classical music and have that pleasant, soft feel. Like most of the album, these songs are easy listening.
As far as rap albums go, this one has a very positive and nice vibe. Both “Stay” and “Skin” use trumpets to introduce the song and keep that element throughout. They also have a relaxed drumbeat to compliment the jazzy bass line and live instruments. Miller fast talks and raps over these smooth sounds to create a vibe that resonates throughout the album.
“My Favorite Part,” and “God is Fair, Sexy Nasty” are songs with arguably the two most famous features of Ariana Grande and Kendrick Lamar, respectively. A heavy bass with a slow beat, accompanied by the female vocals of Grande make “My Favorite Part.”
Miller actually sings with Grande, his current girlfriend, who really blends well on the track. Her vocals compliment the relaxed vibe this album gives that is brought out from the jazz instrumentals.
“Dang!,” a track that was released as a single prior to the album release, is of the more popular songs on the record. With up-and-comer Anderson .Paak as a feature, this is one of the more upbeat songs on the album with a faster beat and livelier horns. The rhythm is simple and easy but works with Miller’s flow. Horns and other chords also play a role in this song again, staying true to the rest of the record.
Overall, the 10-track record does a really good job of approaching rap in a new light. It is refreshing to see jazz and classical music being implemented into this style of music. The use of horns adds a nice sound that accompanies the harmonies and flow Miller brings. The album is smooth, simple and easy. Unlike many modern rap or hip-hop albums, it is not loud, it is not in your face, but it works in its place.
“Soulmate”: This song starts with a quote from Robin Williams’ character in Good Will Hunting talking to Matt Damon’s character about being “bound by nothing.” This song personally resonates with me because of Williams’ recent passing, along with the brilliance in this scene. It is not common to have movie quotes in any song, but this track has this great line over a beat that stays throughout the rest of the song.
“Dang!”: Although I heard this song before the album came out, it is one of the stronger songs on the record. The beat paired with the chords make for a great instrumental under Miller and .Paak’s flow.
“Stay”: This song is one of my favorites because of the use of trumpets. Similar to many of the approaches Chance the Rapper takes on his songs, the jazz and horns give this song a feel that surprisingly works well with a rap beat. Also unique to the record, Miller sings the hook but raps the rest of the verses.
The Divine Feminine is available on Apple Music.
Featured Photo Credit: Featured photo courtesy of Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Photographer.
Vidal Serfaty is a junior broadcast journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org