"Watching Movies With The Sound Off" is the second studio album from Rostrum Records emcee Mac Miller. The album features guest appearances from Action Bronson, Earl Sweatshirt, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, and Jay Electronica, among others, as well as production credits by Flying Lotus, Chuck Inglish, Pharell Williams and others. Most of the production duties are handled by Mac Miller himself, however. The album was released on June 18, 2013.
*This album was reviewed using the full album stream that appeared on various websites before the albums release. No changes were needed once the full album dropped on June 18th.*
1) The Star Room - The album begins with a laid back, trippy, electronic instrumental by Earl Sweatshirt that actually sounds really dope. Mac Miller starts off spitting a few lines in a distorted voice before his voice comes in clearly and the song really begins. He is actually rapping pretty well on here. I've listened to some of his other music previously, but wasn't really feelin much besides "Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza", "Nikes on My Feet" and a few others (mainly due to the sampled 90's instrumentals). This is dope though. Nice.
2) Avian - Mac Miller comes correct over a mellow piano instrumental that sounds like something reminiscent of the theme song from the movie "American Beauty". This is actually really good. It seems like Mac has matured a bit as an artist since I last checked him out. Both his lyrics and flow seem much better than I remember. Dope shit.
3) I’m Not Real (featuring Earl Sweatshirt) - So far all the beats on this album have been really mellow and laid back and this track continues that trend. The beat has some stuttering drums and spacey synths which lend it a very relaxed feel. Mac Miller changes up his voice on this song and spits his verses using a somewhat unemotional, monotone flow. Earl Sweatshirt only provides the chorus, which is a shame because I was really looking forward to his verse. Still, this is another ill track.
4) S.D.S. - This is the first single from the album and its really dope. The song is produced Flying Lotus and is definitely full of his signature sounds. Its more upbeat than the previous few songs and Mac Miller has to speed up his sleepy flow to keep up with the beat. This is the song that got me to check out the album since Mac seemed to be spitting harder than he has in the past (at least from my experience with his music). Oh, and that video is nuts.
5) Bird Call - This is definitely the most energetic song on the album so far. The drums hit hard and the bird call and nature samples that blend into the instrumental are crazy. I was actually surprised to find out this is a Clams Casino beat, since it has a different sound than his previous work (at least the songs I've heard). Mac's reverts his flow back to the monotone, drowsy feeling of the first few songs, but it actually sounds strangely dope over the upbeat instrumental. This is nice. Too bad its so short.
6) Matches (featuring Ab-Soul) - Damn this beat is crazy. The bird chirps are back, but this time they are joined by some enchanting synthesizers and booming bass drums. Ab-Soul absolutely bodies this track using his unique stutter-step flow, while Mac Miller sounds a bit more energetic than he has on the other tracks. I can't wait for Ab-Soul to drop some new music. This track is banging.
7) I Am Who Am (Killin’ Time) (featuring Niki Randa) - Another otherworldly instrumental, this time featuring some ethereal vocals by Niki Randa. The whole vibe of this album so far is very much in line with a Flying Lotus album, which is dope. Mac Miller comes correct and even spits rapid-fire in some parts on this song. Nice.
8) Objects in the Mirror - The beat on this song, by Pharrell, has more of the usual synths and animal noises that are so prevalent throughout the album, but this time they are joined by an electric guitar. Mac Miller sings more than spits his somewhat sentimental and somber verses. This song is pretty good and shows that Mac has some versatility in the kind of songs he can make. I hear there is a live version that is even better than the album version but I haven't checked it out yet.
9) Red Dot Music (featuring Action Bronson and Loaded Lux) - I'm really feelin the Alchemist beat on this song. Its a beautiful, but subtle, vocal sample and some synths over mellow drums. Mac and Action Bronson (who just dropped the dope "Saab Stories" EP with Harry Fraud) trade off verses. The beat fades out and then Loaded Lux comes in and destroys it pretty much acappella. This is a banger.
10) Gees (featuring ScHoolboy Q) - The beat on this track, provided by Chuck Inglish, has a funky Middle-Eastern feel to it. Mac Miller spits a few humorous bars in both a distorted voice as well as his normal voice. ScHoolboy Q does the same, but that's his usual style. This is pretty dope, but its not one of my favorite tracks on here. I was hoping for a better instrumental for ScHoolboy to destroy. Oh well.
11) Watching Movies - The beat on this song is nuts. The synths are crazy and the bass hits hard. Is that a xylophone during the chorus? Either way, this shit is dope. Mac Miller rips it too. This is one of the better tracks on the album for me.
12) Suplexes Inside of Complexes and Duplexes (featuring Jay Electronica) - The instrumental on this song is a reworked version of The Beatles "Strawberry Fields Forever", with some animal noises added to keep with the theme of the album. Mac Miller comes correct but Jay Electronica completely bodies this track:
"My milk and honey, my Cherie Cherie AmourDope track.
My Cinderella in her carriage by the doorway
Her ruby slipper made the wizard send the scarecrow and the lion through the forest
To the wicked witch's fortress where she scorched them in the foreplay
Remember that? He said he'd fight the box to see the Wizard
When he was visited by Dorothy who came here on a blizzard
Now the whole world's in color, still
Her Auntie Em was next of kin and not her mother, real"
13) REMember - Mac gets real personal and spits about his friend and inspiration Reuben Mitrani, who passed away in late 2012. The beat is heavy-hearted and mournful, but beautiful at the same time. I got to give Mac props for opening up like this on the track.
"Can you please tell me help me find my friend?Nice.
I'll give you anything you need multiplied by ten
I heard he moved to a place where the time don't answer
You don't need money, all you got is time to spend
Life is short, don't ever question the length
It's cool to cry, don't ever question your strength"
14) Someone Like You - The production on this album is just beautiful. The instrumental on this track is spacey and ethereal, with a ghostly vocal sample and breezy synths. Mac uses a slower flower and spits about a woman who would have probably paid him no mind if he didn't have money and fame. Dope shit.
15) Aquarium - Another trippy track and Mac Miller rips it. He has really matured lyrically on this album since this is definintely not the Mac Miller that I remember. It's also amazing that he produced almost all of these tracks himself since they are really ill. Very dope.
16) Youforia - Unlike "Bird Call", this track definitely sounds like a Clams Casino track, which it is. The sample on the beat is slowed way down, which is his signature style. Mac Miller doesn't spit a verse on here and sings instead. Eh, the beat is pretty dope but I could do without this track.
*The following tracks are only available on the Deluxe Edition of the album*
17) Goosebumpz - The first bonus track features an upbeat instrumental, which is produced by Diplo, that has a ton of different layers of animal noises and other ambient sounds running throughout. The beat is hectic, but Mac Millers flow is on point. Good song, but not one of my favorites.
18) O.K. (featuring Tyler the Creator) - The second bonus track has a crazy instrumental that is similar to the previous song. I'm glad that these past two songs are just bonus tracks since they don't really fit into the theme of the album. Mac Miller and Tyler sound OK on here, but this song is nothing special.
19) Claymation (featuring Vinny Radio) - Now this is better. The beat is dope and both Vinny Radio and Mac Miller come correct. It's definitely not the best song on here, but its better than the previous two bonus tracks.
I'm going to rate the album
4 / 5
because Mac Miller fucked around and made a really dope album. I'm was not expecting it to be this good. He has really stepped up his mic and production skills since the last time I checked for him. The album has a mellow, hazy feel to it, which is a nice change from some of the other more commercial music that is out there. While there are a few tracks here and there that I'm not feeling, the majority is really good and the beats and rhymes are consistently ill. This album definitely changed the way I feel about Mac Miller, so I'll be keeping an eye out for his future releases. Is there anything else I should check for from his prior releases? Sound off in the comments and let me know.