Mac Miller Finds Happiness and Sobriety on GO:OD AM

Mac Miller is a hip hop head through and through.

Following a mediocre studio debut on 2011’s Blue Slide Park, Mac brought in a slew of producers from Flying Lotus to Pharrell to help him on his 2013 follow-up Watching Movies with the Sound Off. The result was one of the more compelling hip hop releases of the year that often bordered on dreamlike and psychedelic in its nature. It was Mac at his creative best and opened a bright future for the young Pittsburgh rapper.

After a couple of years away from the mainstream spotlight, although still plenty active on the mixtape circuit, Mac has finally returned with his third studio album GO:OD AM which sees him delving deeper into the more mature sound he cultivated on Watching Movies with the Sound Off.

There’s a definite sense of growth on GO:OD AM, Mac is no longer the goofball kid on that caused a commotion kissing pop star Ariana Grande in 2013. He’s also not in a place of darkness and despair that was at times apparent on Watching Movies with the Sound Off and while GO:OD AM has moments of melancholy, Mac is clearly in a happier mental space in 2015.

The best things GO:OD AM does is combine elements of the humourous and fun-loving kid on Blue Slide Park and the hip hop aficionado on Watching Movies with the Sound Off. There’s nothing particularly revolutionary about the album but its beauty is in the simplicity and ease with which Mac delivers track after track.

Kicking things off  with “Doors,” Mac rap-sings his way through the Tyler, The Creator-produced cut reminiscent of something that might appear on J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive. While the intro beat is a little stale, things get better when Mac actually starts rapping on “Brand Name” where his rhyming wit is apparent on homesick lines like “PA’s baby, I ain’t been to PA lately / See I left and they called me shady / I’m a white rapper, they always call me Shady.”

Another standout track comes on “Time Flies” which features the prolific Lil B pondering the concept of time between Mac’s bars and a luscious Christian Rich beat. That song is followed by the Miguel-assisted “Weekend” which boasts smooth late ’90s-inspired R&B production that not only allows Miguel to do Miguel but gives Mac an opportunity to mellow out as well.

One of the biggest surprises of the album comes on “Cut The Check” which boasts an unlikely collaboration with Chief Keef. When the song starts, I found myself thinking “there’s no way Keef would work over this beat” but, alas, it works and works extremely well. Keef sounds grown and the recklessness of his youth is replaced with carefully placed bars that compliment Mac’s own aggressive rhymes.

On GO:OD AM, Mac not only shows he’s capable of holding his own on a rather lengthy 70-minute album — he also elevates his guests and utilizes them perfectly. While he has yet to achieve lyrical greatness, Mac is witty enough to spit with ferocity then flip the table and go into a borderline comedy act which only a handful of his peers can accomplish with success and, especially at the age of 23, is something that should be celebrated.

Get at me on Twitter @PatCwiklinski.