It’s been a long road leading up to Mac Miller’s third album GO:OD AM. He was the first artist since 1995 to get to number one on the Billboard 100 in the US with his debut Blue Slide Park. He backed that up with the excellent Watching Movies With The Sound Turned Off and in between has dropped mixtapes to keep fans hungry.
The last time we heard from Mac was on 2014’s Faces - a depressive, drug-aided mixtape which was received with good reviews but had fans worried that he wouldn’t be able to carry on like he was. Luckily on GO:OD AM he’s cleaned his act up and dropped an album brimming with energy for live and even the odd burst of positivity. It’s not a new Mac but it’s an improved Mac, for sure.
To make sure you’re completely down with it, we’ve compiled an extensive guide through the album from the key moments to the producers and features.
GO:OD AM is essentially underpinned by the common theme of happiness. It’s a far more upbeat, content listen than faces but to understand exactly how he got to this place, he has to go back through some rough times of this record. Love, money, drugs and the future are the most common motifs here and he weaves them through his candid sense of humour which lightens the mood consistently.
“You know it’s been a minute since I’ve been awake,” he raps on opener Doors referring to the fact he’s sobered up a fair bit since his last release. If the record had to be defined in one line it’s this one. The fact that he’s sobered up (not entirely) is the gateway to the happy Mac on this record. “In this lifetime, be the time of your life,” he raps on Two Matches in what would’ve usually been a rare display of positivity. Instead, GO:OD AM is defined by its perkier beats and happier disposition.
Miller is also in a pretty good place to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes him spiral towards drugs and depression, two things that he’s documented extensively in the past. “Dear family, my sanity go up when my cash go down,” he notes on Ascension tying money to addiction a point that is explained further on Cut The Check when he raps, “I’m way too young to be this rich, I don’t know what to do with all this shit.”
You can feel that Mac’s in a better place on this record. His insights seem clearer and his wit sharper. It’s a welcome development given that he finished faces with the line “Who Am I?” He’s stated in interviews that he thought this would be his last release on earth. It’s wasn’t, obviously, but he still digs into depression on GO:OD AM particularly on the dark Weekend where he says, “fell asleep and forgot to die.”
The flipside of that is humour which comes out in abundance. On the record’s funnest track Clubhouse, Mac juggles back and forth with witty lyrics culminating in, “came for the steak and left with the cow.” On Brand Name, he raps “I’m a white rapper they always calling me Shady,” which is part humour part truth, touching on the debate about white rappers fuelled mostly by Iggy Azalea.
Love is also on Mac’s mind on this record. He’s just moved to New York with his girlfriend. ROS is the most loved-up track on the album, even beginning with a question “have you ever been in love before?” He then runs through a pretty sweet set of verses including lines like “love is power” and “you are my drug and love to death.” In typical Mac style though there’s a negative undertone here in that he believes “nothing lasts forever.” “If love don’t last forever then forever ain’t the same,” he concludes.
Tyler The Creator produced album opener Doors and it’s the first time he’s appeared in the main tracklisting of a Mac record. His ex Odd Future counterpart Earl Sweatshirt has in the past been a frequent collaborator.
ID Labs is back again producing or co-producing six tracks on the record. He’s been producing with Mac since his debut mixtape KIDS and has been instrumental in developing what we could now call his signature sound.
Christian Rich produced the Lil B collaboration Time Flies. He’s an absolute legend of the hip-hop world and has produced for artists from N.E.R.D to more recently Chris Brown and Vince Staples.
Sha Money XL pops up on the lead-single 100 Grandkids. He’s actually an executive at Epic Records but has had a hand in producing Big K.R.I.T and 50 Cent records. He was helped out by Mac’s in-house producer Big Jerm.
DJ Dahi produced the Chief Keef-featuring track Cut The Check. He’s had a phenomenal year producing tracks on Dr. Dre’s Compton, Travi$ Scott’s Rodeo and Vince Staples Summertime ‘06.
Canadian producer Frank Dukes has one production credit on Perfect Circle / God Speed. In the past he’s worked with Drake, Jeremih and Ghostface Killah.
Finally, funkmaster Thundercat is back on a Mac record adding some groove to Break The Law. He, of course, had a big hand in Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly.
Many of the features on GO:OD AM are artists who have appeared on Mac records before. Ab-Soul appears on Two Matches, following a guest verse on Matches from WMWTSTO. Schoolboy Q was also on that record and appears on LP 3 briefly with an uncredited turn on In The Bag. Juicy J was on his mixtape Macadelic and also adds uncredited vocals to both In The Bag and Break The Law.
The new collaborations on the record are probably also the most interesting. Miguel is on one of the album’s darkest tracks Weekend adding some staple soul to the track. Little Dragon are also an unexpected but welcome addition on closer Festival. The softness of Yukimi Nagano’s voice really beautifully compliments Mac’s harsher tone. Most excitingly the Based God himself Lil B appears on Time Flies which also happens to be an album highlight. Coincidence? We think not.
Let’s not forget Chief Keef who jumps on a Mac record for the first time with a verse on Cut The Check. It’s not the first time the team have paired-up though. Mac featured on Keef’s I Just Wanna only this year.
The Album Artwork
Mac’s brother Miller McCormick has been involved in designing the artwork for Mac’s part two studio albums and he’s once again on board for this one. He worked with Delve Worthington who designed the font and Brick Stowell who shot the cover image.
“There were things that immediately came to mind—both the good and the bad that come with waking up in the morning,” McCormick said talking about how he game up with the cover. With that in mind he noticed how GOOD AM “lays out symmetrically, like a digital clock.” That became the basis for the font and also a guide for the whole projects artistic direction.
Mac and his brother worked closely on the project as they were living together and realising they had the same work patterns. “I noticed we worked at very odd hours, and our projects start with using our hands before we translate it digitally.”
The video for Mac’s first single 100 Grandkids sees him dropped right into the middle of a school play, acting both as himself and a rather demonic looking moon. He then gets to rap next to a bouncing car which he looks a bit more comfortable doing.
The Release Events
Mac’s going all out for the release of this album with a set of huge events in his home city of Pittsburgh. First, he’ll throw the first pitch at a Pittsburgh Pirates match with one section of the stadium receiving a copy of GO:OD AM. He’ll then host a bowling competition before celebrating release day with a private dinner and listening session. There will then be a softball game and of course a few shows around the city. Basically, if you’re a Mac fan and you’re not in Pittsburgh, you’re missing out.
What Mac Says
The lyrics on GO:OD AM are so good that they mostly tell the story of Mac’s life for the last few years but he’s said a few things in interviews over the past couple of months that help us to understand where he was at when he made the album and how he’s feeling about it now. The iconic Larry King interviewed Mac touching on everything from drugs to leaving his independent label. “Alot of the music I had done recently was a little darker and sad, depressing if you will. I wanted this album to be a departure from that,” Mac told King. “I wouldn’t use the term uplifting maybe just more confident and positive.”
Mac has one of the most passionate fanbases on the internet and uses all of social media accounts to immediately connect. He explained to King that these days it’s not as important to have radio singles because there are other ways of getting music out there. “What I’ve done and so many people have done - you build a strong fanbase that follow you everywhere,” he said.
Speaking to Billboard he said that the album’s positive themes come from the fact the he “got outside and lived a little more.” He further said that “Grand Finale was meant to be the last song I ever made on earth,” because he was so paranoid that his reckless lifestyle was going to lead to death. Death is much less of a motif on GO:OD AM.
Upon the release of 100 Grandkids he spoke to LA radio station Power 105 and talking about the track. “It’s really not a heavy message behind the record. It’s kind of a stupid double entendre where the first record is about grandkids, and the second time is about the first time I got a 100 grand,” he said.
Interestingly, it took the rapper two and a half years and nine albums worth of material to finally settle on releasing this album. Obviously there’s a heap of leftover gold out there and he told podcast A Waste of Time exactly what’s out there. There’s a track with Nas that he think will be coming out soon - “I think when I get on songs with people, they rap really well because I don't think they want any chance that I have a better verse. It's tight. It's flattering,” he said. There was also going to be a Christmas-themed record with Cam’ron - “wanted to do it like Step Brothers-themed. Looking back, I wish I [put it out]. But I've made, like, nine albums before putting this one [GO:OD AM] out.” Additionally, he made an EP with Pharrell that never came out but he says one of the tracks is on Travis Scott’s Rodeo though he won’t say which one.
Ever wanted to be woken up by Mac? Here’s your chance. He released a GO:OD AM alarm clock app that wakes people up with exclusive new content from the album. Obviously, given the album is just a day away, the material won’t be that new anymore but you can still get woken up by Mac which is surely the best way to start everyday. You can download it here.
Mac Miller's GO:OD AM is available now where all quality hip hop records overflowing with charisma are sold | streamed.
- Words and imagery by the interns' Sam Murphy for Cool Accidents