On Nov. 8, Mac Miller released his debut album, “Blue Slide Park,” independently through Rostrum Records. In this album, Miller takes us on a journey through Blue Slide Park, a symbol that represents home to him.
“English Lane,” the first track, begins with a clean bass, swings creaking in the background and kids playing. The beat drops in with a melody of sounds that could cause a trance. Then Miller comes in with a smooth and slightly raspy voice: “They thought the money should’ve changed it / Slide still blue, why the world keep trying to paint it?”
Here he raps about how the new money hasn’t changed him. “Sometimes I just wanna go / Back to Blue Slide Park, the only place I call home,” Miller raps as the song approaches the end.
In an interview with Billboard.com, Miller explained that the title to the intro, “English Lane,” is the name of the street next to which Blue Slide Park sits. So, with this track, you are approaching the park as you make your way down English Lane.
Track two, “Blue Slide Park,” is not exactly a description of the park itself. It is more about the vibe the park gives. Miller raps: “So who you know that’s iller than Mac Miller and company?/It’s like I planted money seeds right underneath the f*ckin’ tree.” Miller displays his near-genius use of internal rhyme here, while making a metaphor about his money.
The music was produced by Big Jermany Dan (Big Jerm) and I.D. Labs, both connected to Miller since the early days, so with this track it seems as though Miller and his Most Dope crew were trying to catch the essence of the place, rather than simply provide a description.
Track three, “Party on Fifth Ave,” is a song that was released early with an official music video. This song samples 45 King’s 1987 release, “The 900 Number.” Mac claims in an interview with Billboard.com that he basically had to beg Big Jerm and I.D. Labs to make this beat, but they finally gave in.
It looks as though this could be one of the album’s hit tracks. In the music video, you can see Miller and his Most Dope crew dressed as old men, but don’t worry: they don’t let their old-men characters keep them from the wild party on Fifth Avenue.
Track four, “PA Nights,” is one of the deeper and more reflective tracks on the album, with music that sounds as if it came off one of Miller’s multiple mixtapes. Miller sings in the chorus: “Taught myself to walk, then got up and took flight/Hey bullsh*t’s always gonna be bullsh*t/So make a toast to the good life.”
In “Frick Park Market,” Mac takes us into a local deli and introduces us to his alter-ego, Cam Rellim (both Mac and Miller spelled backwards). “Welcome to the Cam Rellim chronicles,” Miller raps. In the official music video, Miller dresses as Cam Rellim, who is presented as a nerdy, big-haired young man who is dressed as if he came right from a 1983 high school prom.
“Smile Back” comes in at track six and is used to let Miller get some things off his chest. With heavy bass backing Miller’s flow, the artist proceeds to release some steam.
“Smile Back was my one opportunity to say f*ck you,” Miller said to Billboard.com.
He does just that in the chorus: “I just be like f*ck you, what you need?/You can’t get nothing from me/ You was talking sh*t, now I’m somebody you’d love to be.”
The music video for “Smile Back” is an homage to Camp Lo’s “Luchini (AKA This Is It)” music video from the late ‘90s.
“Under the Weather” is a track that reassures you that everything is going to be alright and could be considered a “feel-good” anthem.
“Of the Soul,” track eight, is exactly what the song title implies. At the beginning, Miller talks: “Looks like I wrote this song on paper. First time I did that in like three years … My handwriting is horrible, and I can barely read this.”
You can even hear Miller turning the page every so often throughout the song, if you listen closely.
When he raps, Miller confronts the expectations of himself as an artist: “Now, I’m just a pop sensation, f*ck your expectations/I’ma be the best, have some patience.”
“My Team” is the ninth track on the album, and it is a song about Miller’s Most Dope crew. Miller even introduces some of the crew in song form: “Got my homie Billy probably on Supreme/Jimmy or Will be selling shirts to the fans/ While TreeJay, Clock, got you raising your hands/Then you got Q, that’s my right-hand man/Shout out to Little Dave sitting shotty in the van.”
Track 10, “Up All Night,” is a very energetic party anthem that displays the variety of music that has influenced Mac’s style, such as punk bands like The Ramones and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
Coming in at track 11 is “Loitering.” The concept behind this song is that you are loitering at Blue Slide Park after dark.
“The title is more from the vibe you get from it,” Miller said to Billboard.com.
Miller raps about eluding the cops over the dark and eerie music: “Say I’m too old to be chillin’ at the playground/Cops coming, motherf*ckers stay down/Girl, I’ll be waiting at the swings.”
Track 12, “Hole in my Pocket,” is an interlude track that sounds like the beginning of “English Lane.” As you listen to the interlude, your mind seems to play catch-up and take in all that Miller has conveyed through his music in the tracks before.
“Diamonds & Gold” tells the story of a girl who was judged by others and bad-mouthed, but eventually gained her own desires, only to create struggles with love because of this lifestyle.
“In reality, she’s a boss and on top of her own sh*t. However because of this decision, she can’t find love,” Miller said to Billboard.com about the girl in the song.
“Missed Calls” is about relationships that struggle with individual desires and dreams, and has an incredibly catchy chorus. In the end, the relationship ends: “Kept breaking promises you said you’d keep/So you can leave a message at the beep.”
“Man in the Hat” comes in at track 15, and it is definitely a song for the fans. “See, I wouldn’t be sh*t if I ain’t have no fans,” Miller raps with a quick and passionate flow. As the chorus approaches, an orchestra of melody enters the song, as Miller raps: “All my people in the front/Go and clap your hands/Everybody in the back/Go and clap your hands.”
As you listen to the last track, “One Last Thing,” you almost feel as if you are leaving the park. “You just entered into Blue Slide Park/The place where dreams come true, that’s where you find heart,” Miller raps.
Listening to this last song made me realize something. This album isn’t about home; it’s about trying to make it back.
Sometimes we leave home, only to wish we could make it back. Miller conveys these feelings when rapping about nights on the road: “Late nights, can’t remember what they day’s like/Reminiscing on stop signs and brake lights/cause it always seems I’m on the move/When they gonna let me back home/I wanna go back home.”
This album isn’t really about Blue Slide Park; it’s about the feeling and vibe Miller gets from this special place from his past.
Everyone has a Blue Slide Park—a place he or she can escape to; somewhere you can meet friends, act like a bunch of kids and have fun doing nothing.
So get “Blue Slide Park” now, fill a cup, turn the volume up, get in your zone and go back home.