Everything I learned about love before I experienced it was down to Mac Miller and his 2016 album, The Divine Feminine. Pittsburgh native Mac Miller was heavily known for the kind of rap you'd hear at a fraternity, but it was good. From his mixtapes to his albums, the level of growth and maturity was apparent and he would later release music that was a lot more meaningful and explored different sounds.
He was a champion of his peers, artists like Kendrick Lamar and The Internet have previously opened for him on tour, going on to become the artists we know and love. He produced and had his own label at the age of 21. He was charming and respectful, often collaborating with his fellow artists.
The Divine Feminine was an album that pleasantly surprised people as his previous work was nothing like it. A male rapper making an entire album about women in such a way was refreshing to experience at 16. I'm confident that without it, I wouldn't have really known what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like and I think a lot of people who were around my age at the time needed to hear it growing up to truly grasp that.
While it might be through Mac's lens which we're hearing how love feels, it's such a beautiful demonstration and a wonderful example to look up to. His fascination and worship are prevalent, listening to this album as a woman makes you feel valued and worthy. This album is what you want a relationship to feel like; soft and affectionate. It shaped the way I viewed relationships - I decided I would never settle for anything less. If it didn't feel like this, I didn't want it.
Unlike anything in Mac Miller's discography and released during the beginning of his relationship with Ariana Grande, it was evident Mac was in love. The warmth and care are reflected through every track on this masterpiece, despite Ariana Grande insisting the only song about her on the album is 'Cinderella'. Regardless, her imprint is evident, with backing vocals, a giggly voiceover, and the beloved feature on 'My Favourite Part'. She introduces the album on 'Congratulations' alongside Kilo Kish, Paige Montgomery and Chloe Clancy. Other features included the likes of Anderson .Paak, Kendrick Lamar and Ty Dolla $ign.
Dang! (feat. Anderson .Paak)
The bounce of this track is quintessential Anderson .Paak, so the feature fits into this song like holding hands with the one you love. It's an upbeat approach to discussing arguing with your partner and making up. It expresses the frustrations yet circles back to wanting to stay with your partner.
Cinderella (feat. Ty. Dolla $ign)
Mac captures the feeling of finally being with someone you've longed for. Ty Dolla $ign's chorus really helps to demonstrate this. The lyrics on this song are possibly some of the most sexual on the album, but Mac's cadence feels a lot daintier than some of his other work regarding the topic. He still manages to make it sound appealing. When the beat switches and Mac begins to sing, the romance of the song really comes through.
My Favourite Part
Undoubtedly one of the best duets of our generation. The chemistry between Ariana Grande and Mac Miller on this song is undeniable. Seeing the beauty in someone else when they're none the wiser has been deemed an attractive quality by Mac Miller and evokes the desirability of someone seeing the listener that way. Ariana Grande delivers flawless riffs and runs effortlessly as always.
God Is Fair, Sexy Nasty (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
Kendrick and Mac team up for the first time since 'Fight the Feeling' to deliver this record full of passion. This is a side of Kendrick we rarely ever get to see, yet he and Mac deliver a beautiful song about making love. The track ends with Mac's grandma telling the love story of her and her husband over mellow keys. It's simply a perfect way to end the album.
Piano and brass instruments take the forefront of the production and the subtlety of funk and jazz gush through the album, providing a smooth foundation for his lyrics. While some lyrics are filled with more adoration than others, and some are a lot more sexual, it's evident that they all come from a place of love and never vulgarity.
Mac Miller, among a couple of others, was my introduction to rap and hip hop, so it's quite fitting that he would later go on to release an album that moulded who I would go on to become. And who would've thought an album by Mac Miller would go on to be one of the best rap records about love? Rom-coms can only do so much, but The Divine Feminine taught me how love was supposed to feel.
His death in 2018 left me heartbroken. Having listened to him from the age of 12 and having cherished his personality, one which was bursting at the seams with good intentions and virtue, the idea that he would no longer be here just didn't seem real. But it is that charming and kind spirit that not only ensures that he is still within our hearts four years since his passing but which enabled him to create bodies of work with such nurture and care.