Mac Miller: Swimming – Ariana Grande’s ex resurfaces
Hip-Hop & Rap
He is perhaps best known on this side of the pond for his former relationship with pop star Ariana Grande, but dismiss Mac Miller’s renown as a hip-hop star Stateside at your peril. The 26-year-old Pittsburgh native’s fifth album signifies an altogether more mature, well-rounded sound than his patchy earlier work. These aren’t quite hard-hitting social commentaries, but Miller’s cynical view on the fickle world of fame is illuminating at times, not least on So It Goes and Ladders. Elsewhere, he delves into relationships on Small Worlds and Perfecto, which hints at discord beneath the surface – perhaps related to that aforementioned two-year stint with Grande – while Self-Care Oblivion details the aftermath of a break-up while steering clear of sentimentality. Coupled with a soundtrack that takes in an enjoyable amount of schmoozy, finger-snapping ’70s funk (What’s the Use), woozy soul samples (Dunno) and a brief-but-unexpected foray into lush strings and piano on the self-examining 2009 (“Sometimes I wish I took a simpler route, instead of having demons as big as my house”), it proves a more difficult album to dismiss than you may think.