Watching Movies with the Sound Off

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Watching Movies with the Sound Off
Studio album by Mac Miller
Released June 14, 2013
Recorded 2012–2013
Genre Hip hop
Length 71:30
Label Rostrum Records, Universal
Producer Larry Fisherman (also exec.), AdoTheGod, Chuck Inglish, Clams Casino, Diplo, Earl Sweatshirt, Flying Lotus, I.D. Labs, Pharrell Williams, SAP, The Alchemist, Tyler, The Creator
Mac Miller chronology
Macadelic
(2012)
Watching Movies with the Sound Off
(2013)
Live from Space
(2013)
Singles from Watching Movies with the Sound Off
  1. "S.D.S."
    Released: April 22, 2013
  2. "Watching Movies"
    Released: May 25, 2013
  3. "Goosebumpz"
    Released: May 28, 2013

Watching Movies with the Sound Off is the second studio album by American rapper Mac Miller. The album was released June 18, 2013 under Rostrum Records in the United States. The album continues his changes in his musical sound that he began with the mixtape Macadelic. Mac Miller has described the album as very introspective and very personal. The album features guest appearances from Earl Sweatshirt, Ab-Soul, Action Bronson, Schoolboy Q, Jay Electronica and Tyler, The Creator among others. Production was handled primarily by Miller himself (under the pseudonym Larry Fisherman) among others such as Diplo, Tyler, The Creator, Flying Lotus, The Alchemist, Clams Casino, Earl Sweatshirt, J. Hill, Chuck Inglish and Pharrell Williams.

The album was supported by three singles, "S.D.S.", "Watching Movies" and "Goosebumpz", which peaked at number 41, 33, and 43 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs respectively. Upon its release, the album was met with generally positive reviews from music critics, which praised his new psychedelic hip hop influence and improved lyricism. The album also fared well commercially debuting at number three on the Billboard 200, selling 101,000 copies in its first week of sale.

Background[edit]

On October 14, 2012, Miller announced that the title of his second album would be, Watching Movies with the Sound Off. He also said it would be released in early 2013.[1][2] The album title is derived from Miller’s habit of making music in the studio while watching films on mute.[3]

Miller explained the difference between his debut album Blue Slide Park and this album he said, "Blue Slide was kind of about growing up in Pittsburgh and just about that feeling and [Watching Movies] is just what's going on in my head right now, after the time I've spent doing what I'm doing."[4] When speaking of the album Miller said that it is "very introspective and very personal so it’s kind of throwing it all out there and seeing what happens."[5]

The album's cover artwork was released via Mac Miller's official website on May 8, 2013. The cover art features Miller sitting nude at a table, his convenient placement of the "Parental Advisory" avoiding any indecent exposure. The minimalistic cover also has an apple sitting on the table, a flower-bearing ornament, and a golden cherub hanging from the ceiling.[6] In an interview with Clash Miller explained the cover saying, "I've been chilling on the real description because it's funny that everyone tries to figure it out. There's the idea that an apple is good for you; I went through this period in life where all I ate was apples, but there's also some Adam and Eve shit." The cover art was designed by Miller McCormick. Complex ranked the cover at number 21 on their list of best album covers of 2013.[7]

Recording and production[edit]

Mac Miller was the album's primary record producer, under his pseudonym Larry Fisherman.

Miller has estimated that he has recorded over 400 songs during the process of making the album.[8] The majority of which were recorded in his home studio at his house in Los Angeles, California.[9] On September 1, 2012, Miller released another free song called "PlaneCarBoat" which features West Coast rapper Schoolboy Q and was produced by himself.[10]

Mac Miller originally confirmed features on the album to include Schoolboy Q, Earl Sweatshirt, Ab-Soul, Cam'ron, Tyler, The Creator, Action Bronson, Casey Veggies, Kid Cudi, Gucci Mane and Loaded Lux.[11][12][13] Miller and Schoolboy Q alone have recorded nine songs during the album's recording process which only one made the album.[3][11] He also told MTV that Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner of Suicidal Tendencies and Snoop Lion will perform the outro on the album.[4] The track listing was released on May 25, 2013, and revealed guest appearances on the album to include Earl Sweatshirt, Ab-Soul, Action Bronson, Schoolboy Q, Jay Electronica, Tyler, The Creator, Loaded Lux, Vinny Radio and Niki Randa.[14] Mac Miller would say Jay Electronica's verse would be the last addition to the album, as he had received the verse only two hours before he was set to master the album.[15]

This is also the first album where Mac Miller self produced a large chunk of it under his alias Larry Fisherman. He has said he was very self-conscious of his production on the album.[2] The album's production was also handled by Pharrell Williams, Chuck Inglish, The Alchemist, Clams Casino, Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler, The Creator, Flying Lotus, J. Hill and Diplo among others.[3][4][8][16][17][18][19]

Release and promotion[edit]

In late 2012 Mac Miller confirmed a Spring 2013 release date for the album.[20] In a March 1, 2013 interview with MTV, Miller announced that he was close to finishing the album and that he would be releasing music videos in a few weeks.[4] In late March 2013 Mac Miller announced a release date of either May or June 2013, and said that the album was one song away from completion.[3] He turned the album in to the label in late April 2013.[21] On May 2, he announced via UStream and Twitter that the album would be released on, June 18, 2013.[22]

Odd Future sub-group The Internet accompanied Mac Miller as his live band, for the duration of The Space Migration Tour.

Miller released an iTunes exclusive EP entitled You under the name Larry Lovestein & The Velvet Revival on November 21, 2012. Rather than rap, the EP features Miller crooning over lounging jazz instrumentals.[23] Soon after he also announced his plans to finally release 92 Til Infinity with DJ Jazzy Jeff in early 2013 prior to the release of Watching Movies with the Sound Off. However this release and his EP with Pharrell would be delayed till after the album.[24] On March 4, 2013, Miller also released a new mixtape solely featuring instrumentals made by himself titled, Run-On Sentences Vol. 1 under his production alias "Larry Fisherman".[25] All these projects were released in promotion of the album.

Tours[edit]

Mac Miller announced his headlining The Space Migration Tour on May 7, 2013. The tour consisted of supporting acts Chance The Rapper, Earl Sweatshirt, Action Bronson, The Internet, Vince Staples, Meek Mill and newly signed artists of Mac Miller new record label REMember Music. The tour began on June 25, 2013, and ran through July 18, 2013.[26] Chance, Vince Staples and The Internet were featured on every date while the other acts made guest appearances on select shows.[27] Recordings of 14 songs performed during the tour and five previously unreleased tracks from the recording sessions for Watching Movies with the Sound Off, was released as his first live album, Live From Space, on December 17, 2013.[28][29]

On December 18, 2012, Lil Wayne announced that he would go on a European tour with Mac Miller and 2 Chainz during March 2013 in promotion of his tenth studio album, I Am Not a Human Being II and 2 Chainz and Mac Miller's albums. Later, on March 5, 2013, Wayne stated that the tour would be postponed until October 2013 in order for him to prepare better and to be able to fully promote his album.[30] The tour featured 15 performances in 10 different countries over the month.[31]

Singles[edit]

On March 9, 2013, he announced that the first single from Watching Movies with the Sound Off would be "S.D.S.". He premiered a snippet of the song on the second episode of his reality show. The song is produced by Flying Lotus.[32] Then on April 21, Miller announced that he would be releasing the song on April 23, 2013 and music video the following day.[33] The song has since peaked at number 41 on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[34]

On May 4, 2013 Mac Miller announced on Twitter that the second single off the album would be titled, "Watching Movies" and produced by himself along with SAP.[16] Three days later, Mac Miller confirmed that the track would be premiered on May 9, 2013.[35] Later that month on May 25, the song was released for digital download.[36] Then the song's music video was released on June 14, 2013.[37] "Goosebumpz" produced by Diplo would be released as the album's third single on May 28, 2013.[38] "Goosebumpz" has since peaked at number 43 on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[34]

On June 25, 2013, the music video was released for "Objects in the Mirror".[39] Then on July 8, 2013 the music video was released for "Gees" featuring Schoolboy Q.[40] Two weeks later, the music video was released for "I Am Who Am (Killin Time)" featuring Niki Randa.[41] "The Star Room" also received video treatment, it being premiered on October 2, 2013.[42] The video for "Youforia" followed later that month.[43] Then on February 15, 2014, the music video was released for "Avian".[44]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[45]
Entertainment Weekly (B)[46]
Exclaim! (8/10)[47]
The Guardian 2/5 stars[48]
HipHopDX 4/5 stars[49]
NME (7/10)[50]
Pitchfork 7/10[51]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[52]
The Source 4/5 stars[53]
XXL 4/5 stars (XL)[54]

Upon its release, Watching Movies with the Sound Off received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 73 which indicates "generally favorable reviews", based on 17 reviews.[55] David Renshaw of NME said, "Now in possession of a clearer sense of his own identity, the stoned haze of cloud-rap engulfs Miller’s rhymes as he undercuts the fug with animated lyrics and a keen sense of humour, comparing himself to Eastbound & Down character Kenny Powers and actor David Duchovny along the way. Ultimately, however, it’s hard not to notice that the production outshines the delivery, with Pharrell and Diplo beats topped only by the slick ‘SDS’ courtesy of Brainfeeder boss Flying Lotus. At least it all diverts attention from that naked album cover, mind."[50] David Jeffries of AllMusic stated, "Without the hooks or the lofty lyrics, the album seems made exclusively for Miller's fans or those who right-click indie rap mixtape links on the daily. Those audiences should find it an interesting trip, admirable artistic growth, and an attractive, entertaining step in the right direction. Others will likely be flummoxed."[45] Edwin Ortiz of HipHopDX said, "Whatever adolescent deficiencies Mac Miller dealt with throughout his prodigious rise as Rostrum’s second brain child, Watching Movies With The Sound Off genuinely keeps him grounded for a calculated performance that will earn him the respect he’s craved since his Easy Mac days. Miller doesn’t pander for a clear cut radio single, nor does he let the fear of Internet backlash obstruct his experimental approach. In that respect, the Pittsburgh emcee is right back where he started; kickin’ incredibly dope shit."[49]

Sean Ryon of XXL commented saying, "Despite the disparity of styles, the album’s sequencing affords it a greater sense of cohesion. Listeners will have little trouble transition between the booming “Watching Movies” and more subdued affairs like “Suplexes Inside of Complexes And Duplexes”. This is due to Mac’s excellent production throughout as Larry Fisherman. Despite a few lacking moments (“Avian” and “Somebody Like You”) the sonic template here is what makes Watching Movies such an engrossing listen. Mac Miller’s sophomore effort is a surprising and focused album from an artist fed up with his public perception. He does enough here to prove his point."[54] Nick Catucci of Rolling Stone stated, "On Watching Movies, he tosses in a chain saw: punch-drunk slow-and-arty beats he produced with Diplo, Flying Lotus and his pal Earl Sweatshirt. The often mesmerizing production may be a crafty way of distancing himself from Cheesy Mac, the party rapper responsible for the irresistible bro-down "Donald Trump." Having fully absorbed Eminem, Miller wants to experiment with hipper stuff: pitch-shifted hooks and rap-nerd picks like Action Bronson and Jay Electronica (who get guest verses)."[52] Max Mertens of Now gave the album three out of five stars, saying "The standout element of Mac Miller’s second studio album is the production. Featuring beats from hip-hop veteran the Alchemist, Brainfeeder boss Flying Lotus, cloud rap producer Clams Casino and Daft Punk’s BFF Pharrell, Watching Movies With The Sound Off is the Pittsburgh rapper’s best shot at being taken seriously."[56]

Kyle Anderson of Entertainment Weekly said, "On his new Watching Movies With the Sound Off, the willfully goofy Miller has evolved — to a point. "Objects in the Mirror" and "Aquarium" are surprisingly self-reflective, but the dumb-fun party jams are half as infectious as before, and twice as misogynistic."[46] Chayne Japal of Exclaim! stated, "The huge strides he's made between 2011's Blue Slide Park and this release exemplify the reverence he has for what he does and the hard work he dedicates to it. Mac Miller emphatically joins a higher tier of rap artists with Watching Movies, an effort that at once silences his detractors and rewards his faithful following."[47] Ben Lester of The Source said, "While ‘Watching Movies with the Sound Off’ lacked that strong single to support the album’s release and the young Mac still has time to fully develop the direction in which he proceeds from at this point in time, the Most Dope spitter crafted a cinematic achievement that is definitely most dope."[53] Mike Madden of Consequence of Sound gave the album a C+ stating, "Watching Movies is Miller’s most enduring, and endearing, project yet. I won’t be worried if he decides to overhaul his sound again someday – I trust his artistic acumen now – but it would be nice to see him run with the aesthetic he found here. Either way, Miller now sounds so hungry that it’s all but certain he’ll be even better the next time around."[57] Craig Jenkins of Pitchfork Media said, "Watching Movies with the Sound Off is a quantum leap in artistry, but it’s not without faults; the album’s about three songs too long, and a couple of the tracks in the back end just plain run together. Also, while all of the guest spots here are welcome deviations from Miller’s adroit Stones’ Throw homage, they routinely punctuate how much room he’s got left to grow as a writer."[51]

Accolades[edit]

Closing out the year, Watching Movies with the Sound Off was named to multiple "Albums of the Year" lists by major publications. Complex ranked the album number 12 on their list of the 50 best albums of 2013. They commented saying, "Mac's greatest asset isn't his bars, it's his songwriting. When he actually moves away from the dusty, MF Doomy, Stones-Throwish beats that dominate the album, he not only diversifies his sound, he hits his full stride. The R&B-influenced "Youforia" and the rock tinged "Remember" stand as album highlights. Credit his secret weapon: Larry Fisherman, the producer who provided most of the album's backdrop. Who is this guy? He's way better than anyone would have guessed. Where did Mac find him? In the mirror, it turns out. "Larry Fisherman" is an alter-ego for Mac himself."[58] The album was also named a runner-up for Album of the Year at the 2013 HipHopDX Year End Awards. They elaborated saying, "Mac moved geographically and spiritually, and he also moved units. He wasted no time entrenching himself in the Left Coast music scene—primarily through his work with Odd Future members Earl Sweatshirt and The Internet. He got high, went high concept and delved into the depths that come with losing loved ones while questioning the worth of celebrity culture. It was a huge step up for the kid who created "Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza.""[59]

Rolling Stone positioned it at number 19 on their list of the 20 best hip hop albums of the year. They commented saying, "Mac Miller surprised critics and fans alike with his experimental Album Two. The plucky Pittsburgh MC culled influences from everyone from Flying Lotus to Schoolboy Q, while showcasing his own brand of dusty, space-funk-influenced production. He stepped his bars up too, sneaking in inventive flows and bugged-out imagery on stoned meditations like "S.D.S" and "Watching Movies.""[60] It was ranked at number 14 on XXL's list of the best albums of 2013. They elaborated saying, "Mac Miller swayed away from his cheesy raps with a much mature experimental sound with his sophomore LP Watching Movies With The Sound Off. Along with several guest appearances from Ab-Soul to Earl Sweatshirt and Action Bronson, Miller improved lyrically as he bridged the gap between hip-hop and party anthems with records such as “Gees” and “The Star Room,” which displayed a much more strikingly viewpoint of an independent hip-hop artist."[61] HipHopDX deemed it one of the top 25 albums of 2013 saying, "Mac Miller went far left for his 2013 effort. He credits a lot of the sonics to his own personal tastes, growth and a lot of time with Odd Future offshoots, The Internet. He mixed the same early bravado and experimentation from his debut into an album that didn’t so much push the envelope as rip up the envelope and throw all of his influences in a blender."[62]

Commercial performance[edit]

In its first week of release, Watching Movies with the Sound Off sold 101,795 copies in the United States, debuting at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart.[63] In its second week the album sold 23,000 more copies bringing its total album sales to 125,000.[64] In its third week the album sold 13,000 more copies.[65] In its fourth week the album sold 10,000 more copies.[66] As of August 7, 2013 the album has sold 167,000 copies in the United States.[67]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s)[68] Length
1. "The Star Room"   Malcolm McCormick, Thebe Kgositsile randomblackdude 4:35
2. "Avian"   McCormick, Eric Dan, Jeremy Kulousek, Zach Vaughan Larry Fisherman 3:16
3. "I'm Not Real" (featuring Earl Sweatshirt) McCormick, Kgositsile randomblackdude 3:23
4. "S.D.S."   McCormick, Steven Ellison Flying Lotus 3:04
5. "Bird Call"   McCormick, Mike Volpe Clams Casino 2:08
6. "Matches" (featuring Ab-Soul) McCormick, Herbert Stevens IV, Dan, Kulousek, Vaughan I.D. Labs 2:58
7. "I Am Who Am (Killin’ Time)" (featuring Niki Randa) McCormick, Niki Randa, Alex Lipinski AdoTheGod 5:01
8. "Objects in the Mirror"   McCormick, Pharrell Williams Pharrell Williams 4:19
9. "Red Dot Music" (featuring Action Bronson & Loaded Lux) McCormick, Arian Asllani, John Lucks, Alan Maman The Alchemist 6:07
10. "Gees" (featuring Schoolboy Q) McCormick, Quincy Hanley, Evan Ingersoll Chuck Inglish 2:55
11. "Watching Movies"   McCormick, Jonathan King SAP, Larry Fisherman 3:40
12. "Suplexes Inside of Complexes and Duplexes" (featuring Jay Electronica) McCormick, Timothy Thedford Larry Fisherman 2:47
13. "REMember"   McCormick, Oliver David Sim Larry Fisherman 4:28
14. "Someone Like You"   McCormick, Dan, Kulousek, Vaughan, James Hill, Nylo J. Hill, I.D. Labs 4:16
15. "Aquarium"   McCormick, Merrill Garbus, Dan, Kulousek, Vaughan, Ritz Reynolds Larry Fisherman 4:38
16. "Youforia"   McCormick, Volpe Clams Casino 4:01
Sample credits[68]
  • "Avian" contains a sample of "The Ellie Badge" by Michael Giacchino
  • "S.D.S." contains a sample of "The Colorado Trail" by David Grusin
  • "Matches" contains a sample of "Twin of Myself" by Black Moth Super Rainbow
  • "Red Dot Music" contains a sample of "A Heart's Desire" by Camel
  • "Watching Movies" contains a sample of "You Are Dead" by The End of Science
  • "Remember" contains a sample of "Swept Away" by The xx
  • "Someone Like You" contains a sample of "Someone Like You" by Nylo
  • "Aquarium" contains a sample of "Powa" by Tune-Yards
  • "Goosebumpz" contains a sample of "Bulgarian Chicks" by Balkan Beat Box

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from AllMusic.[69]

  • Ab-Soul – Featured Artist
  • Action Bronson – Featured Artist
  • Jay Electronica – Featured Artist
  • Steven Ellison – Composer
  • Merrill Garbus – Composer
  • Quincy Hanley – Composer
  • Thebe Kgositsile – Composer
  • J. Kulousek – Composer
  • A. Maman – Composer
  • Mac Miller – Primary Artist
  • L. Moore – Composer
  • Tamir Muskat – Composer
  • Nylo – Composer
  • Tyler Okonma – Composer
  • Thomas Pentz – Composer
  • Vinny Radio – Primary Artist
  • Niki Randa – Featured Artist
  • ScHoolboy Q – Featured Artist
  • Oliver David Sim – Composer
  • H. Stevens IV – Composer
  • Earl Sweatshirt – Featured Artist
  • T. Thedford – Composer
  • Timothy Thedford – Composer
  • Tyler, The Creator – Featured Artist
  • P. Williams – Composer

Charts[edit]

Release history[edit]

Regions Dates Format(s) Label(s) Edition(s)
Australia[80] June 14, 2013 CD, Digital download Rostrum Records, Universal Music Group Standard, Deluxe
Ireland[81]
New Zealand[82]
United Kingdom[83] June 17, 2013 Rostrum Records
Germany[84] June 18, 2013 Rostrum Records, Universal Music
United States[85] Rostrum Records
Canada[86]

References[edit]

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