2018, Music

Swimming (2018) by Mac Miller

I’m an old man, musically speaking, and so I know that I won’t like what the kids like. But I do try to understand. I actually actively trying to do so this year which is how I’m listening to this. But disliking a vocal performance will always be something that’s hard for anyone to overcome. When I don’t initially like a voice, it’s usually pretty easy for me to get over it, or get used to it, if I like the music. But I do not love hip hop or R&B in general. So, when somebody sings like this, over music that isn’t going to grab me without a lot of effort, I have a really hard time.

The whole “rappers who sing” thing has long mystified me, at least when they can’t sing in a conventional or interesting way. I understand this is just the way it is now, but it’s still a really hard barrier for me to overcome. And the thing about Mac Miller is he appears to be a “mumble rapper.” I have heard about these rappers too but have been fortunate to avoid them for the most part. But the thing about Mac Miller is, he’s both a mumble rapper and a rapper who sings. It’s not cursive singing – a style of singing I actively hate but am trying to at least artistically appreciate – as it lacks the dexterity and chops. That’s right, it’s like cursive singing but worse.

So you can see how this could a problem for me: this is a record where I have to like or at least resonate with the singer and I absolutely do not because I hate his voice. It took me until my requisite third listen to not absolutely hate the entire record. Familiarity breeds tolerance or acceptance or even respect when it comes to music and me, and I’ve known this a long time. It’s why I listen to albums more than once. If I listened to this once I would have absolutely trashed it because, to me, he sounds like sub-sub-Drake and I don’t like Drake.

I understand it’s probably just me. This is well reviewed and seems to be the second favourite record among his fans. But this has nothing for me. Only some songs have hooks strong enough to stay with me afterwards. The production is not interesting to me, sounding like numerous other alternative R&B/neo soul records I’ve heard, with far less invention. And then there’s Miller himself, who I just really don’t like listening to. (It’s possible some of the production is actually cliche, but it doesn’t sound it because he’s rapping/singing over it in a way no singer or rapper of the past would because they have more traditional technique.)

Not for me in basically every way.


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