The late rap legend from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has one of the best and most consistent discographies in all of modern hip-hop. Mac also has incredible song writing, lyricism and is able to convey emotion so well through his music. All of his records have a distinct sound and showcase his growth and evolution as an artist. Like Denzel, Mac is another one of my favorite artist's that I feel like I have not talked about enough. I will just be ranking his main discography that is present on Spotify and reflecting on his one of a kind artistic growth from album to album before his untimely passing. Mac's ability to reinvent himself with every new release was one of a kind and I don't know that we've seen any artist progress as much as him artistically.
10. Blue Slide Park
Released in 2011, Mac's debut studio album named from a park he grew up around, Blue Slide Park despite not being his best work, was an important artistic transition in his early career. Though not his most mature release, we see Mac go from the fun loving high school kid on K.I.D.S. and Best Day Ever to a genre bending creative mind. He's still the young, sporadic rule breaker we all know and love on tracks like Party On 5th Ave. but he is able to do more developed tracks like the incredible Missed Calls. Some of the bland songs hold the album back from being better but it's clear to see Mac was just starting to diversify his sound. It's a solid project but has trouble holding up ten years later.
9. Best Day Ever
Mac's fifth mixtape released in 2011 and the follow up to his acclaimed mixtape K.I.D.S. also helped elevate him into the mainstream view. Best Day Ever is just as the title sounds, it is Mac just having a fun time and making upbeat music. Mac is in his element just rapping about the good times but is also to get introspective and hopeful on tracks like Life Ain't Easy. He also had one of his first breakthrough singles in Donald Trump, which garnered attention from the man himself. There are very few dull moments on here though there is not much staying power to some of the tracks. Despite that Mac shows he can keep the attention of an audience for a whole record with his constant positivity and vibe of just having fun.
Mac Miller's fourth mixtape was the one that caught the attention of the public. Kickin' Incredibly Dope Shit is what the acronym stands for and that's what he does for the most part. Mac develops his unique style with his bright personality and unique way of sampling tracks in his instrumentals. The tape sounds like graduating high school which is clearly the sound he went for, and he executed it super well. Mac's rapping sounds effortlessly and his confidence and fun loving character is incredibly intoxicating to the point it feels like you're living Mac's life with him. Although some people hold this in a higher esteem, I do not have the same nostalgia for it and it is hard to compared it to his conceptually and lyrically dense later work.
Mac's seventh mixtape was released in 2012 and has grown on me a lot recently. Although it has some weaker songs, its highs outweigh its lows by a good amount. I often revisit tracks such as Desperado, Thoughts from a Balcony, Vitamins, Fight the Feeling, The Mourning After, 1 Threw 8 and America I revisit often and I consider them to be great music. The rest of the tracks are inherently bad but I don't find myself revisiting them that often. Once again we see Mac diving into deeper themes and singing more often. Though it's not the focus of the record on a few tracks we begin to see Mac diving into themes we see later on in his work like depression, addiction and a feeling of being lost or empty. Though not the most consistent record, its highs are super high.
6. GO:OD AM
Released in 2015, GO:OD AM is Mac's third studio album where we happen to see his versatility and elite pen game come to fruition. It is a consistently good album with no skips, and does not drag once throughout its seventy minute run time. Mac shows his diversity on hype bangers like 100 Grandkids and Cut The Check with Chief Keef, but is able to focus on his technical ability and incredible lyricism and storytelling on Perfect Circles / God Speed which is one of his best tracks to date. Once again we see Mac diving deeper into his depression and addiction and he isn't as playful and fun as he once was. Despite the diverse styles found here Mac is able to maintain a cohesive sound throughout this great album.
5. Watching Movies with the Sound Off
In 2013 Mac released his second studio album, and the album that made people start saying, oh shit Mac is serious about this. This is where the incredible atmospheric production comes in, the complex lyricism and the personal Mac we all come to know and love was introduced. From a technical standpoint this is Mac's best rapping album aside from Faces which we'll get to later. We still see flashes of the high energy fun kid we all knew and loved but he mostly transitions into an introspective and scared Mac. It is clear that this was a new direction from him right off of the intro The Star Room. Other tracks like I'm Not Real and Red Dot Music still prove to be some of Mac's best lyrical tracks to date. Mac's transition into an artistic juggernaut was a silky smooth one and offered one of his best projects.
4. The Divine Feminine
Mac's fourth studio album was yet again another curve ball. Released in 2016, The Divine Feminine is not only one of the better jazz rap albums I've ever heard, but one of, if not the best album centered around love I've heard to date. In a word, this record is beautiful and contains some of Mac's best moments. Cinderella with Ty Dolla $ign is one of Mac's highest revered songs ever, but the crazy fact is that it is just as good as other tracks like Dang!, Soulmate, Congratulations, Stay and Skin, which is nearly the rest of the album. But God Is Fair, Sexy Nasty with Kendrick Lamar is one of the most incredible tracks I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. Everything about that song is perfect but is damn near the same quality level as the rest of the album.
Considering it was initially released in 2014, but just recently got remastered on streaming service, it's no surprise that this cult favorite is so high up on the list. Faces is a beautiful depiction of the downward spiral Mac is facing, and he takes us on his lonely, intoxicating and drug-fueled journey with him. Though the track list is a little bloated at nearly an hour and a half run time, it's hard to find too many tracks that'd be worth taking off. So many of the songs hear are down right amazing and earned a spot on this legendary, some would say career defining mixtape. I did a full review on the re-release so if you'd like to see what else I have to say just check out the "Reviews" section of the website.
Though it is deemed a posthumous album, released in 2020, Circles was mostly finished by Mac's untimely passing and you can tell that's true through its clean and honest sound. Most of Mac's rooted in his pain and growth, Circles is a moment of closure from Mac Miller. It is heartbreaking and devastating to hear what Mac has to offer hear on this soulful and jazzy score since it came after his death. Mac reflecting on his past and the lessons he's learned in life is incredible, and it is always an emotional listen as it sounds if Mac is speaking from beyond the grave. Circles is Mac's farewell as he raps and sings of his perspective on life and what to take away from it as a whole and just makes for a beautiful moment in music history.
Mac's fifth studio album released in 2018 was also Grammy nominated, rightfully so but also the biggest loss since Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid m.a.A.D City losing to Macklemore. Mac does it again with a beautiful album that is nearly perfect. Once again he is soul searching and bringing us right along for the ride for an album that is therapeutic in a way. The jazzy instrumentals are handled so well and allow for Mac to carry his emotional weight over every song, making you feel his sorrow. There are points where words cannot describe the greatness of this record and it was truly Mac's magnum opus. RIP to truly one of the greatest emcee's to ever do it.