Mac Miller cuts quite an interesting anomaly in today’s hip hop landscape. Having come up during the ‘frat rap’ era of the early 10’s, he all but shed his early party image with a flurry of dark, atmospheric releases in the last half decade. 2016 then saw another new shade of Miller, a blossoming relationship with Ariana Grande inspiring the loved up jazz-hop album that was The Divine Feminine.
Push forward two moons however, a messy breakup followed closely by a DUI charge has Mac Miller in a much different space. His latest effort comes in the form of Swimming, an LP teased in July after a prolonged media silence from recent events.
Swimming kicks off with the crooning melancholy of ‘Come back to Earth’ which sets the tone for the rest of the downbeat album. Standout cuts include ‘Wings’, ‘Small Worlds’ and ‘Dunno’, all dwelling in the abyss of self-destruction.
This isn’t to say there isn’t hope though. There is a certain defiance to the whirlwind surrounding him that is confronted consistently throughout the LP. Perhaps most notable is in ‘Wings’ where he proclaims; “I’m better than I’ve ever been.”
This really is an album that sways. From optimism one minute to disillusionment the next, there is no moment of stagnancy. In Miller’s words; “This feel like my own way of living.” And it’s hard not to disagree. Swimming takes a deep dive into the many motions of lived experience.
As a whole, the album is about two songs too long. ‘Conversation Pt. 1’ is a dull filler that leaves no warrant for a Pt. 2 and ‘So It Goes’ is a weak outro by Miller’s standards. This to the side, Swimming is an extremely solid return from an artist who is in recovery mode and fighting.