Whether he's Delusional Thomas, Larry Fisherman or his most notable moniker, Mac Miller, Malcolm James McCormick has proven with his latest mixtape, Faces, that, if nothing else, all of his personalities know their way around 16 bars.
The Pittsburgh rhymer uses the tape to continue his brand of blending lyricism and existentialism while exuding intelligence and humor, specifically, paying homage to his comic hero, Bill Murray. The notably mellow MC showed love to the Ghostbusters star by incorporating some of his famous lines on songs like the jazzy "Here We Go," the J Dill-influenced "It Just Doesn't Matter," "Polo Jeans," "Wedding," "Funeral" and "Grand Finale."
Despite this effort, however, the production on Faces was somber even for Mac. The introductory song, "Inside Outside," starts off with a sedated saxophone, giving the young MC the perfect canvas for his emotional fragility.
Throughout, he oscillates back and forth between low self-esteem-driven calls for help and boisterous undertones on songs like the borderline morbid "Malibu," on which he debates whether or not he will die before going to detox; "Friends" and "Here We Go," which he uses to blaze wack Internet rappers.
"I'm the hardest working person in the universe/Temptation victim to the Church of Lucifer/Internet rappers ain't s--t without computer work/You spent your whole advance on 2 Chainz and a Gucci verse/I'm the greatest, admit it, I'm the greatest/And I don't hold a grudge against anybody who hate it/ I'm underrated, don't fit on nobody's playlist/If I'm not in your top ten, you're a racist," Mac rhymed on the horn-laden track.
Mac teams up with frequent collaborator Earl Sweatshirt of Odd Future for "Polo Jeans," showing once again the two's undeniable chemistry as they turn another bare bones beat into a melodic song before the Blue Slide Park rapper dives into songs like, "Happy Birthday," "Wedding" and "Funeral," all in consecutive order. Despite the celebratory titles of the first two, Mac keeps it grim.
Production turns up a bit on the second half of the mixtape. Mac took on the rapping style of Drake on the Rick Ross-assisted "Insomniak," rapping, "I'm on my worst behavior/I'm on my bad sidepiece with the Persian flavor, muthaf----s never loved us/Coming for your money muthaf---a don't trust us/You ain't s--t/Bought a brand new crib, yeah move that brick/I don't want nothing with your foo foo clique/Treat her like a dog, how I do that b---h."
Faces' other notable collaborations include "Rain," which features introspective verses from Mac and Vince Staples, "What Do You Do," on which Mac goes back and forth with Sir Michael Rocks in a manner reminiscent of Method Man and The Notorious B.I.G. on "The What," and the Mike Jones-assisted "Uber."
At 23 songs (plus one skit), Faces' only drawback is that that's a long time to sustain that level of moody thoughts and similar sounds. Mac switched things up a little bit on songs like "Therapy," which was one of the album's rare high energy tracks, but mostly the mixtape was melancholy melodies.
Lyrically, however, Mac stayed bright, continuing to sharpen his skills and add more layers to his already impressive repertoire — his verses flow better and sound tighter, no matter which one of his alter egos shows up to the studio.
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(Photo: REMember Music)