Songs are given room to breathe, often ebbing and flowing past the five-minute mark, and although I'm unwilling to calculate it, I'd bet that TDF has the least words-per-minute of any Mac project.Relaxed and confident, Mac comes through with an album that's just as much jazz and R&B as it is hip hop. Labs, Frank Dukes, DJ Dahi, and Thundercat return, and Mac also gets valuable assists from R&B killer JMSN, space funk master (and former Snoop Dogg collaborator) Dâm-Funk, jazz keyboardist Robert Glasper, and TDE mainstay Tae Beast.As he showed on last year's great two-part banger "100 Grandkids," Mac is an expert at finding various grooves in the same melodic backdrop and letting songs evolve in a seemingly organic fashion, so no matter the genre him and his collaborators are playing with, everything's bound together by his deft rhythmic sensibility.
You usually only see this degree of consistent evolution and maturation in artists who take two or three years between albums, but since Mac released I Love Life, Thank You almost exactly five years ago, each of his seven ensuing projects (not counting live albums or ones released under pseudonyms) has been better than the last.
The Divine Feminine fits right in line with Mac's existing trajectory, meaning that it's far and away his best album, and that it makes direct improvements on its predecessor.
Robin Williams (sampled on "Soulmate") and Bill Murray (previously sampled on Faces' "It Just Doesn't Matter") began their careers as exuberant slapstick comedians, the former on '70s sitcom "Mork And Mindy," the latter on frat comedies "Meatballs" and "Caddyshack," but eventually grew into misty-eyed sad clowns equally adept at inciting laughter and tears.
Having been through the tumult of drug addiction, Mac's gained some life experience and moved away from the happy-go-lucky weed raps of his youth.
2011 Mac was part of the post-"I Love College" frat rapper wave that also included Hoodie Allen, Sammy Adams, and Mike Stud, and even though he claimed that he "hate[d] college parties" at the time, his weed, booze, and girls-focused music fit right in with his more Greek Life-oriented contemporaries.
He wasn't outright abhorrent in the way that modern-day Lil Dicky is, but in his early days, he was part of one of the most regrettable music scenes of this century.
Much like Isaiah Rashad's recent Sun's Tirade, all of TDF's songs sound like they're part of the same body of work despite the fact that a wide array of producers, and an even wider array of session musicians, collaborated on them. Although all the above have distinctive styles and knock around in different music scenes, throw all of them on a scatter plot based on genre, and TDF forms a pretty logical line of best fit.
There's delicate piano riffs, tastefully subtle funk, languid jazz horns, in-the-pocket grooves, and minimal-but-hard modern rap drums, all wrapped in strings (courtesy of Juilliard students) to give things a more cinematic feel.
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