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Mac Miller – ‘Watching Movies With The Sound Off’ Album Review

It’s been two years since Mac Miller released his debut album Blue Slide Park. The Pittsburgh rapper first burst on the scene as a teenager with boom-bap aspirations, only to be written off as a tween favorite and the white boy rapper du jour — a far cry from the “Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza” Mac Miller who rocked Lord Finesse’s “Hip 2 Da Game.” That stigma didn’t sit too well with Mac, who used his sophomore efforts Watching Movies With The Sound Off to eschew that image for a more mature and self assured sound.

From the album’s opener “The Star Room,” it’s clear Mac’s looking to shatter the perceptions tied to his debut. “Haven’t picked a major label, think I’m black balled/ I still don’t got the heart to pick my phone up when my dad calls/ Will he recognize his song when he hears my voice?” he raps—a brutally honest reflection from the now 21-year-old who came into fame under the skeptical gaze of the industry. Songs like “Bird Call” and “Gees” show a polished penmanship, where Mac adopts a more freely associative style of wordplay that melds the oddball antics of a DOOM and the pointed barbs of an Eminem. He even proves to have enough verbal gumption to go toe-to-toe with lyrical powerhouses Jay Electronica, Action Bronson and TDE’s Ab-Soul and ScHoolboy Q on their respective collaborations. He’s still no revelatory lyricist – much of the subject matter still revolves around weed and sex – but he’s convincing enough to dispel notions that he’s the suburban crossover gimmick.

Sonically speaking, Watching Movies With The Sound Off falls somewhere between Pharell and Madlib, deeply rooted in the sounds of Stones Throw that manages to bridge the gap to contemporary mainstream hip-hop. Cuts like the Flying Lotus-produced single “S.D.S.,” “Bird Call” and “Red Dot Music” veer towards his backpacker leanings while “Objects In The Mirror” and “Youforia” have R&B tendencies. Despite the disparity of styles, the album’s sequencing affords it a greater sense of cohesion. Listeners will have little trouble transition between the booming “Watching Movies” and more subdued affairs like “Suplexes Inside of Complexes And Duplexes”. This is due to Mac’s excellent production throughout as Larry Fisherman. Despite a few lacking moments (“Avian” and “Somebody Like You” the sonic template here is what makes Watching Movies such an engrossing listen.

Mac Miller’s sophomore effort is a surprising and focused album from an artist fed up with his public perception. He does enough here to prove his point.—Sean Ryon (@WallySean)

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  • Jack

    Word This was one of my favorite albums in june besides Yeezus, Born Sinner and Spirit and Opportunity by Stann Smith

  • KingXander

    Why the fuck is Originality 3? Should be 5. This album is really Original.

    • Jordan Schrock

      not really

  • TheTruth

    why this album rated and not yeezus and born sinner, do I detect bias? All three albums should have been rated together smh.

    • Ronald Jack

      Yeezus is up. Just click on the review tab

    • Anon

      It’s an opinionated review of course there is a bias dumbass.

  • Eddz

    So, according to XXL, the lyrics on Mac Miller’s new album are better than Yeezus? Ok then….

    • bluedragon41

      Yeah it was, “Eating asian pussy all i need is sweet and sour sauce” versus “Lets get it on, I’m royal like Tenenbaums in Lebanon. Decepticons, hit it ’til my head is gone”

      • Invaderrjl

        New Slaves basically shitted on this album. that one song was better than 90% of this album.

        • Yo momma

          Yeezus was not that good stop dick riding kanye west

          • SS87

            THank you. I’m not even a Mac Miller fan (I have every Kanye album) and that Yeezus shit shouldn’t even be labeled rap & hip hop. Put that shit next to Skrillex or something.

          • ola dioss

            you were doing so well until you compared kanye’s sub-par album to Skrillex when the actual production is nowhere near alike sonically.

        • bluedragon41

          New slaves was the best song on there (mostly because of the beat) but he isnt saying anything hundreds of rappers have tried doing before.

    • Matt Cosgrove

      Yeah cause Yeezus was a huge disappointment.

  • Anon

    Fuck The Guardian for giving Mac 2 stars on this real ass album.

  • jamdownSQUAD

    good day for hip hop.

  • Tico Chanellington

    While I love Mac, (I really do) I honestly don’t know what it means that his album is rated the same as Yeezus.

  • 1 Mic

    corny as fuck


    lol ok i know im taking shit for this but… born sinner >Movies> yeezus

    • Cocaine Howie

      I’d agree but I liked Movies better than BS

      • Matt Cosgrove

        I agree with you. Glad to see i’m not the only one with this opinion

        • AJ

          I also liked Movies better than Born Sinner.

      • discountdivah

        I also liked Movies better and I’m so surprised that others feel that way too! Mac Miller really surprised me. And he got a little “unplugged” video for Objects in Mirror … that song is fire!

  • Da Don (Givenchy Lifestyle)

    bias ass review. y’all gave cole L and this bum ass album xl. hip hop is officially dead… its seems nas prophecy came to pass

    • DatDudeBruhBruh

      Fuck Coal and his Recycle Bin Classic album… nobody but lames like that trash. Mac on his real shit now, glad he hanging with Odd Future and TDE.

  • Jay DeLuca

    koooo album ill will take a couple listens over the wknd and c if its woth my $ kanyes deff aint lmao….#greatness starts @ 4:45ammm

  • coldfusion167

    Dope album. Really liking Red Dot Music w/Action Broson. Also feeling Watching Movies – real dope beats!

  • devante_s

    LOL his album is better than cole’s GTFO

  • AngryCitizen

    It’s good but Jcole and Yeezus way better… NUMBERS DONT lie


    just coped dis album had the burned copy…but i loved it so much it was wrth my $.made me crack ^ lmao good album…..got my bro bangin this now 2..out here in southern CALI