Things have changed for Mac Miller in recent years, but on his debut album, the 19-year-old spitter holds on to his humble beginnings for dear life. Blue Slide Park, which is named after Miller's favorite childhood hangout, is a homegrown compilation of dope from a youngster whose rap appeal stretches way beyond his native Pittsburgh borders. The question is, how much further will Tuesday's (November 8) independently released BSP take the MC?
Mac has already racked up a faithful fanbase and over 1 million Twitter followers before most industry execs even caught on. Still, there is a hint of reservation on the album-opening "English Lane." Sounds of children playing outside pepper the track as the swirling beat builds to a full instrumental ready for Mac to examine his growth. "They thought the money should've changed it/ Slide still blue, why the world keep trying to paint it?/ When life around you changes, try to keep your sameness," he sings in a smoky whispered voice.
The title track echoes a similar sentiment, though it's more upbeat. Over the ID Labs-produced song, Mac turns up his b-boy swag, reminding listeners of his flawless flow, growing bank account and vast array of groupies. Even with all of his boasts, however, there are moments of regret. "Louis shoes, Polo socks, some name-brand dumb sh--/ Logos never make the man, but I'm still blowin' thousands on it," he spits.
Fame has also taken a toll on Mac's love life, and on "Missed Calls," things get more drastic. "Didn't think I would lose you once I got famous," the rapper breathes heavily with a voice drenched in disappointment.
BSP isn't a downer though, just a personalized examination of Mac's ascent, which began with his 2010 breakout mixtape, K.I.D.S. There is much to celebrate as well. The fun-filled "Party on Fifth Ave." samples DJ Mark the 45 King's 1987 hip-hop classic "The 900 Number" and perfectly channels rap's golden era. "My Team" finds Mac paying homage to his Most Dope crew, "Smile Back" is an anti-hater anthem and "Up All Night" is a reckless drinking ode.
The rapper's old haunting grounds represent a sense of normalcy, something he so desperately craves these days. "No matter what happens in life, no matter where you go, where you're off to, what happens with the park, that slide will always be blue. That will always be Blue Slide Park no matter what," Miller told MTV News in July. "You can go to New York and live for 10 years and become a huge business mogul and then come back to the 'Burgh and no matter how much money you got, that slide is still blue."
The reality is, for Mac Miller there is no turning back, and on Blue Slide Park, he slowly comes to grips with that. On the album's finale, "One Last Thing," he raps repeatedly, "I wanna go back home." Maybe they'll throw him a parade when he gets there.