Mac Miller has come a very long way in a very short time. In a matter of years, Miller has transformed himself from a simple Pittsburgh teen chasing his dream of making it big to one of the most popular hip-hop artists in the world. Miller has been climbing the ranks of rap ever since he dropped his first album “Blue Side Park,” and hasn’t looked back since. As Miller’s status and bank account advanced, so has his music, shifting from a simplistic “frat rap” style to a more mature and developed sound.
Anyone with a brain and a cheap computer can make rap songs about getting wasted and making money, but only real artists can use the medium to exorcise their own personal demons. “GO:OD AM” is a testament to this change in Miller as he tackles his own struggles dealing with fame, drugs and recovery. Miller is able to do all this while providing his signature positive attitude, smooth as water flow and rapid rhymes, all layered on top of high quality trap beats that work in tandem to round out the album’s new and improved.
The production of the beats that provide the landscape to Miller’s wandering lyrics often threaten to steal the show, as they feel as though each one has been crafted deliberately, meticulously honed down in order to capture a feeling or a set tone. The production of “GO:OD AM” is without a doubt a collaborative effort as Miller has brought on an impressive and varied team of fellow artists to help him construct many of the album’s tracks. These guest appearances include artistic efforts from producers Tyler the Creator, Thundercat, Christian Rich and long time Mac Miller collaborator ID Labs. The record also holds features from fellow rappers Ab-Soul, Juicy J and a surprisingly coherent verse from Chiraq’s favorite son Chief Keef on the track “Cut the Check.” The Based God Lil B performs poetic spoken word on “Time Flies,” Miguel pours silky R&B flavored soul into “The Weekend,” and Miller even brings in Yukimi Nagano, vocalist of Swedish electronic band Little Dragon, to add dreamlike vocals on the album’s closing track “The Festival.”
Despite being joined by an all-star cast of his peers, “GO:OD AM” never goes a second feeling as though the album belongs to anyone other than Miller. Filled to the brim with his own personality, Miller has infused his thoughts and emotions into each track. Lyrics such as, “I been having trouble sleeping, battling these demons, wondering what’s the thing that keeps me breathing? Is it money, fame or neither?” open a small window into Miller’s mental state. Engaging lyrics are present all throughout the album as Miller challenges concepts such as happiness in the face of materialism on “In the Bag” and weighs settling down and dreading a normal life versus making money on tracks “100 Grandkids” and “Brand Name.” Miller’s newfound lyrical depth is most prevalent on the two-part stand out track “Perfect Circle/God Speed.” Mac looks his own drug problem in the face, rapping, “But white lines be numbing them dark times….I need to man up, admit it’s a problem, I need to wake up before one morning I don’t wake up.”
While Miller’s sound and lyrics have undeniably started to mature, “GO:OD AM” still reveals certain shades of shallowness that were present on his previous works. Several songs dip back into familiar territory of basic money-obsessed, liquor fueled rhymes that remind you of that kid at your high school who tried to make it as a rapper and then just ended up never leaving his hometown. Despite this apparent weakness, the complexities of GO:OD AM still manage to shine through via Millers clever wordplay and lively beats.