ALBUM REVIEW: Mac Miller Battles Demons and Heartbreak on ‘Swimming’

While you’re never sure if his music is successful at saving him, it makes for a great listen.

Swimming is the fifth studio album from Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller. Whereas his last album, The Divine Feminine, was inspired by his relationship with Ariana Grande, this one focuses on their breakup.

“You can have the world in the palm of your hands / you still might drop it” he raps on “So It Goes,” a line that encapsulates the melancholy sentiment of the record. Most of the songs are laid back and contemplative, featuring dreamy production from a range of artists including Cardo, J. Cole, The Internet’s Steve Lacy, the underrated Alexander Spit, and in-house work from Miller’s new home base studio ID Labs.

Of the 13 tracks, only two are truly upbeat: the Thundercat and Dâm-Funk assisted “What’s the Use?” and “Ladders,” an infectiously groovy production with excellent live trumpet arrangements. Despite the slow pace, Swimming remains engaging from start to finish due to high-quality production and Miller’s self-deprecating honesty. He’s always been open about his struggles with addiction and you get the sense that he’s creating music to fight his demons.

“Somebody save me from myself,” he raps on “Self Care” (co-written with Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes). While the listener is never sure if his music is truly successful at saving him, it makes for a great listen.

Score: 🏊🏼‍♂️🏊🏼‍♂️🏊🏼‍♂️🏊🏼‍♂️/5

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