Mac Miller heard all the criticism after his first album, Blue Slide Park.
The 19-year-old from Pittsburgh was dismissed as frat rapper, an emcee with rhymes that were sometimes clever but often cheesy. But instead of running from these critiques on his sophomore album, Watching Movies With the Sound Off, Mac Miller decided to take them head on.
In fact, the album opens with a track taking on his flaws and the criticism he found after the first album.
“Can’t decide if you like all the fame/Three years ago to now it’s just not the same/I’m looking out the window ashing on the pane I wonder if I lost my way,” raps Miller on the album’s first track, “The Star Room.”
Mac Miller was equally bold in when he dropped the album. Released Tuesday, Watching Movies With the Sound off came out the same day as Kanye’s sixth album, Yeezus. J. Cole also released his album Born Sinner the same day.
“I wanted to run at first, but then I was like, nah, I’m not gonna run, I’m gonna hold my ground and drop this album the same day,” Miller told Fuse TV earlier this month. “This is an omen, there’s a reason that this is happening.”
Critics have applauded Miller in his sophomore album, noting that he’s grown as an artist. Andrew Gretchko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes:
“This is no Yeezus –— it’s also no 18-year-old Miller’s K.I.D.S. –– but Miller’s sophomore album shows the kind of creativity in both his lyrics and their delivery that we’ve come to expect from the 21-year-old Pittsburgher. For Miller, it’s just another step in the right direction.”
MTV reviewer Philip Mlynar, who once compared Mac Miller’s first album to something the cast of Glee might have put together, admits there is an entirely new artist on Watching Movies With the Sound Off.
“Whereas Blue Slide Park was embossed with a poppy and playful sheen, Watching Movies is strewn with static and distortion,” Mlynar writes. “It opens with a wave of slow-building scuzzy atmospheric effects which morph into the song ‘The Star Room.’ Mac talks about living inside his head, dwelling in purgatory, and dealing with demons.”
Another sign of the artistic growth of Mac Miller — he even produced a few of the tracks on the album, under his alter-ego Larry Fisherman.