Because we’ve seen so many musical tributes paid to the ladies over the years, some probably hoped that Mac Miller’s new fourth LP, The Divine Feminine (Sept 16, Warner Bros/REMember), would drastically change course from criticizing women in rap to praising them (while helping to beat back the media-expanded gender wars and battle of the sexes), and while it does praise women in one particular aspect, it doesn’t in others. Thank heavens it doesn’t lampoon them. Except for a small snippet at the end, the album approaches women just as lovers and relationship/sex partners. With such a loaded title, shouldn’t this be about all the roles they play in this world including but not limited to mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, workers and home-keepers?
Almost immediately, you can tell that Mac won’t stray from his subtle, gentle one-track mindedness on the “dirty deed” and the feelings of being coupled. He and his invited producer friends like DJ Dahi, Vinylz, Frank Dukes and longtime collaborator ID Labs have assembled a variety of soft tracks to loosen the chicks up and get them in the mood. Lovey strings atop lead to danceable grooves in “Dang!” which open for Donnie-like trumpets in “Stay,” where Mac does his best Chance The Rapper impression. Considering that all of Mac Miller’s LPs up to this point have been composed by a mixed bag of beat-makers, isn’t it about time for the guy to make an official studio album produced entirely by himself, Larry Fisherman?
Miller cruises through this project crooning in love ballads for seemingly more time than he spends hard-rapping. It feels like a soulful r&b album more than a hip-hop one in several spots, no question. It’s a blend of the two genres really. Still, we must go back and revisit Mac Miller’s tunnel vision on the bond of love itself. It’s ok if that’s the concept of the album, but why didn’t he add some all-encompassing appreciation for everything women are and do? The highly sentimental ending speech in “God Is Fair, Sexy Nasty” given by a nameless woman tries to build on what Mac Miller started but doesn’t pull it off, and it comes off feeling very formulaic and by the book. Like the majority of his guests here, maybe it all has to do with Mac’s young age at the moment. In “Soulmate,” he perhaps describes his current mindset best when he says, “my eyes closed, your body is all I see.”
2 out of 5 stars