chicago Editorials series

Remembering Mac Miller’s ‘Watching Movies With The Sound Off….’ (Editorial)

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When Mac Miller passed I wrote a heartfelt tribute. Yet, it was when I spoke on his second studio album, Watching Movies With The Sound Off…, that I found myself most emotional and contemplative. This was his groundbreaking moment, the first body of work that showed his creativity and overall genius. We no longer saw the happy go lucky Mac who dropped songs, videos, and albums that were more pop than hip hop. This was a man that had grown up and experienced a Renaissance of sorts in his newfound fame and trials and tribulations that followed the blinding spotlight. 

It is now that I want to go back to Watching Movies With The Sound Off…, a time when I felt every inch of his being as the debut of a new man.

On May 2 Mac announced on Ustream and Twitter (in his bathtub) that his second studio album would be released on June 18, 2013. It was a great promotional tool. The upcoming leak of the album art would display an almost nude Mac covering his most private of bodily areas with just a table. On March 4 Miller released a new mixtape solely featuring instrumentals made by himself titled Run-On Sentences Vol. 1 under his production alias Larry Fisherman. The project served as another promotional piece to grab fan’s attention, and perhaps create new ones. It worked.

Then, on April 21st, Miller announced that he would be releasing the album’s first single, S.D.S in just two days, and the music video the following day. The song peaked at #41 on the Hip Hop/R&B Billboard charts. On May 25 the second single, Watching Movies, was debuted along with the official music video. The last single, Goosebumpz, hit the airwaves on May 28. It peaked at #43 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop. After this string of singles, music videos started pouring in for album cuts Objects in the Mirror, Gees (featuring Schoolboy Q) I Am Who Am (Killin’ Time) (featuring Niki Randa), Youforia, and Avian. 

As the public consumed Run-On Sentences Vol. 1, the three singles prior to the upcoming album, and a number of music videos, anticipation grew high and we began to see the true depth of Mac as an artist and individual. 

Word began to spread (and eventually confirmed) that Watching Movies would be a concept album. I instantly felt a rush of anticipation. I was excited at the prospect of an intricate, well thought out, and mysterious record that would most likely take time to fully consume. I was also shocked that all of this was coming from Mac Miller, a rapper that at the time I rarely paid attention to.

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Miller initially described the album as very introspective and very personal; promises he more than kept. Eclectic instrumentals bounced off walls, tracks like Suplexes Inside of Complexes and Duplexes and Objects in the Mirror blew minds, and guest features from the likes of Earl Sweatshirt, Ab-Soul, Action Bronson, Schoolboy Q, and Tyler, The Creator completed the picture of a man struggling with his own demons. Haunting experiences with drugs, fame, and addiction permeated the 19 track LP, captured instrumentally from producers like randomblackdude, Flying Lotus, Clams Casino, The Alchemist, Diplo, Tyler The Creator, and even Larry himself.  

Watching Movies With The Sound Off… is 71 minutes of pure introspection, admitting sexual desires, juxtapositions of human life, exploitation and exploration of females; often told with a middle finger to the public.

Mac has blessed us with a host of mixtapes, instrumental projects, and studio albums that continued to take us along his journey – whether paved or unpaved. It is Watching Movies With The Sound Off… that is his most complete, most dynamic work – as clear as a moving picture that doesn’t need dialogue to hit every part of your being.

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