With the help of blaring horns, sweet strings and doo-wop background vocals, Mac Miller released his most artistic and romantic album yet on September 16.
The album opens with Mac’s current girlfriend, pop star Ariana Grande, questioning “where are you?” followed by chords of stacked Imogen Heap-like layered harmonies as giggling is heard in the background. This introduction demands your attention as The Devine Feminine is audibly introduced: “The Divine Feminine, an album by Mac Miller.” The first words Mac utters are “Love, love, love, love,” which prefaces the entire record.
“Congratulations (feat. Bilal)” features a heavy amount of strings and piano. Mac is describing a nostalgic love in this opener. He’s the most reflective and personal I’ve ever heard him. “You were everything I ever wanted / bought a wedding ring it’s in my pocket / planned to ask the other day / knew you’d run so I guess I just forgot it.” Bilal closes the track with a jazz vibe that turns to funk in the next track.
The album’s lead single, “Dang! (feat. Anderson .Paak)” has a funk vibe supported by horns and a hook that can’t escape your head: “I can’t keep on losing you over complications.” The beat is infectious and you can’t help but groove.
“Stay” opens with a jazzy trumpet and an R&B beat. What’s interesting/confusing about this track though is the huge contradiction lyrically between the hook and the verses. The hook asks “Will you stay just a little while, babe?” Respectful. Cool. I’m sold. Then as the verses continue Mac states. “The way you walkin’ to the room / all I think about is what I wanna do to yo / I don’t wanna be polite no more.” You don’t notice the difference until you pay attention to the lyrics because the sultry R&B sound is consistent and nice to listen to as the song goes on.
“Skin” is another downtempo, ballad-type, hyper-sexualized track. It doesn’t stand out but the heavy use of doo-op background vocals upholds the continuity of Mac’s sound that’s heard throughout this album.
“Cinderella (feat.Ty Dolla $ign)” is a collaboration that makes a lot of sense sonically. Mac and Ty’s gravelly vocals are similar and come together to create an interesting, percussion and guitar-heavy track. To be honest, there is a lot of misogyny within these lyrics — “Daddy told you, better bring your ass home.” The beat is familiar-sounding but what sets this track apart is the instrumental transition that happens. A guitar-led interlude prefaces a “part two” of the song. The beat diminishes and piano takes over as Mac’s vocals conclude the song.
“Planet God Damn” features singer-songwriter Njomza. It’s a forgetful track that tells the “what could have been story.” Njomza’s hook is a little too repetitive and Mac’s lyrics are way better on the other tracks.
“Soulmate” opens with a synth vamp that precedes a sample of Robin Williams’ speech about finding a soulmate from Good Will Hunting. The touching words set up this memorable track for success: “You have a soulmate? Somebody who challenges you. I’m talking about someone who opens up things for you — touches your soul.” The heavy use of synth in this song adds a cool ’80s vibe. The lyrics are honest and genuine. “You the one to show me divine love, love, love, love / Where was you when I was lonely, my divine love, love, love, love?”
“We” features CeeLO Green. Honestly, CeeLo hasn’t been on my radar since “Forget You.” But he impresses with his gritty jazz sound and riffs. This track contains a sultry Caribbean-island vibe. It’s chill.
“My Favorite Part” features Ariana Grande. You’re either going to love this track or hate it. It opens with Ariana saying “Don’t know why thinking of him makes me smile.” The so-in-love vibe is consistent throughout. The hook is classic R&B and sticks in your head. The idea of the song resembles the old One Direction hit, “What Makes You Beautiful,” so unfortunately I immediately thought of the British boy band as soon as I heard the hook, “You just don’t know how beautiful you are.” It’s a shame the lyrics are so similar because “My Favorite Part”’s melody is super interesting and Mac’s gritty voice paired with Ariana’s smooth riffs make for a cool combination.
The album closes with an epic collaboration. Kendrick Lamar makes an appearance in “God is Fair, Sexy Nasty”. You immediately know Kendrick’s voice and he really compliments Mac’s jazz-infused sound. Percussion and piano drive this track home as we transfer to a really unique outro. Mac’s grandma describes her classic fairytale love story with Mac’s grandpa. The album closes with a happily-ever-after concept that embodies the entire piece of work.
At the end of the day, Mac put out a really interesting album containing music that celebrates love, women and as Mac’s grandma said, “how important it is to love, respect and care for each other.”