Swimming (Mac Miller album)

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Swimming
Mac Miller - Swimming.png
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 3, 2018 (2018-08-03)
Recorded2016–2018
Studio
Genre
Length58:33
Label
Producer
Mac Miller chronology
The Divine Feminine
(2016)
Swimming
(2018)
Circles
(2020)
Singles from Swimming
  1. "Small Worlds"
    Released: May 30, 2018
  2. "Self Care"
    Released: July 13, 2018
  3. "What's the Use?"
    Released: July 23, 2018

Swimming is the fifth studio album by American rapper Mac Miller and the last album to be released during his lifetime. It was released on August 3, 2018, by REMember Music and Warner Records. Production on the album was handled by Miller himself, as well as Dev Hynes, J. Cole, Dâm-Funk, DJ Dahi, Tae Beast, Flying Lotus, and Cardo, among others. The album has no credited features, but contains vocal contributions from Dâm-Funk, Dev Hynes, Snoop Dogg, Syd, Thundercat, and JID.

Swimming was supported by three singles: "Small Worlds", "Self Care", and "What's the Use?" The album received generally positive reviews from critics and debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200. It was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2019 Grammy Awards.

Background[edit]

Miller began work on Swimming in 2016.[3] He announced the album through social media on July 12, 2018, alongside its release date.[4]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Lyrically, The Independent stated Miller addresses the acknowledgment of his temper ("Wings") and the pitfalls of fame ("Small Worlds").[5]

Concerning the album's music, Rolling Stone noted Swimming is "a continuation of 2016's The Divine Feminine, with a silky, deep vibe redolent of the L.A. alternative soul scene."[6] The song "So It Goes" has been said to incorporate "muted guitars and a spacey synth drone", while "Wings" has been described as "a spacious neo soul slow burner punctuated by the occasional sigh of a violin."[7] NME wrote that "Ladders" is "a buoyant radio ready bop, which sees his bars skitter across glorious brass lines and earworm riffs."[8] "Jet Fuel" was described as "sluggish, dancehall-inflected trip hop", and "What's the Use" as "synth-funk".[6]

Release and promotion[edit]

Swimming was released worldwide by Warner Records on August 3, 2018, amongst other high-profiled albums, such as Astroworld by Travis Scott and Stay Dangerous by YG.[9] Miller performed "Ladders" on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on August 13, 2018.[10]

Miller announced The Swimming Tour on July 23, 2018, with Thundercat and JID as his opening acts. The tour was scheduled to have 26 shows across North America, beginning in San Francisco on October 27, 2018, and concluding in Vancouver on December 10, 2018.[11] It was cancelled following Miller's death on September 7, 2018.[12]

Singles[edit]

On May 30, 2018, Miller released the album's first single "Small Worlds" and two non-album singles: "Buttons" and "Programs".[13] The album's second single, "Self Care", was released with an accompanying music video on July 13, 2018.[14] The album's third single, "What's the Use?", was released on July 23, 2018.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.5/10[15]
Metacritic78/100[16]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[1]
The A.V. ClubB[17]
Financial Times4/5 stars[18]
The Guardian4/5 stars[7]
The Independent4/5 stars[5]
NME4/5 stars[8]
The Observer3/5 stars[19]
Pitchfork7.5/10[20]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[6]
XXL4/5[21]

Swimming was met with generally positive reviews. At Metacritic, the album received an average score of 78, based on 13 reviews.[16] Aggregator AnyDecentMusic? gave it 7.5 out of 10, based on their assessment of the critical consensus.[15]

Meaghan Garvey of The Guardian described Swimming as "a patient record in sound and concept" and "an ambling 13-song journey towards self-acceptance, one that does not end in triumph."[7] Colin McGowan of The A.V. Club complimented the album's production and vocal delivery: "Miller sounds great when he's whining, croaking, stretching syllables like warm mozzarella. Swimming's spare, dreamy production allows him to do a lot of that."[17] Evan Rytlewski of Pitchfork concluded: "An album with nothing but time on its hands and an understanding that healing is a slow, tedious process, Swimming is most engaging when it details the simple things Miller tells himself to keep his spirits up."[20] Kyle Mullin from Exclaim! enjoyed the album, saying, "Whether Miller is singing on those funk-inflected highlights, or rapping on them with a flow that's airtight to their irresistible rhythms, he sounds like a would-be chart-topper, not to mention one of the most versatile and accomplished hip-hop artists working today."[22] For NME, Hannah Mylrea concluded: "Swimming isn't what you would have expected from Miller when he first started dropping mixtapes over a decade ago, but that doesn't matter. This album shows his growth as both an artist, and as a person who's had to deal with the most private aspects of their life being publicly dissected. It's a stellar – if somewhat overlong – artistic statement."[8]

Mosi Reeves of Rolling Stone wrote that Swimming is Miller's "most impactful album of his career", though noted a lack of lyrical depth: "If he could surface those demons with more vivid details and add texture to his lyrics instead of simply using them as a rhythmic device, then he may have a genuinely classic album in him yet. But if Swimming doesn't quite achieve greatness, it connects. You can hear his pain and perseverance, even if he struggles to put it into words."[6] Neil Z. Yeung of AllMusic concluded that "Swimming is ample evidence that Miller can pick up the pieces and continue evolving, his grasp on thoughtful, introspective hip-hop getting stronger by the album."[1] Trey Alston of Highsnobiety concluded that Swimming is "the authentic self-destruction album so many artists have attempted before. Here, Mac is in rare form, chronicling his destruction and rebirth in a way that shows his acknowledgment of the path ahead, but reluctance to step on it without the certainty of companionship at the end. Whether he continues to walk that path is ultimately up to him, but the Mac that's featured on Swimming will find his way from the darkness. In the process, he's given us a beautiful means to mark the turn of his narrative."[2]

Accolades[edit]

Publication List Rank Ref.
Billboard 50 Best Albums of 2018
14
100 Best Albums of the 2010s
70
Complex 50 Best Albums of 2018
11
Highsnobiety The 25 Best Albums of 2018
24
The Independent The 40 Best Albums of 2018
7
NME Best Albums of the Year 2018
38
Noisey Noisey's 100 Best Albums of 2018
18
The 100 Best Albums of the 2010s
90
Okayplayer The Best Albums of 2018
13
Uproxx The 50 Best Albums of 2018
50
Vibe 30 Best Albums of 2018
16
Ceremony Category Result Ref.
2019 Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Nominated [34]

Commercial performance[edit]

In Miller's home country of the United States, Swimming debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200 with 66,000 album-equivalent units, which included 30,000 pure album sales in its first week.[35] It serves as Miller's fifth consecutive top-five album in the United States.[35]

Following Miller's death on September 7, 2018, the album rose from number 71 to number 6 on the Billboard 200 with 67,000 album-equivalent units, of which 15,000 were in traditional album sales.[36] Additionally, three tracks from the album entered the US Billboard Hot 100: "Self Care" (number 33), "Hurt Feelings" (number 70), and "Come Back to Earth" (number 91).[37] "Self Care" became Miller's highest-charting song as a lead artist and second-highest entry overall, behind Ariana Grande's "The Way" featuring Miller (2013; number 9).[37] On April 23, 2019, the album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for combined sales and album-equivalent units of over 500,000 units in the United States.[38]

In Australia, Swimming opened at number 21 on the ARIA Albums Chart, becoming Miller's third top-50 album in the country.[39] In Canada, Swimming debuted at number four on the Canadian Albums Chart.[40] It serves as Miller's fifth consecutive top-10 album in the country.[40] In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number 37 on the UK Albums Chart, becoming the rapper's first top-40 album on the chart.[41]

Track listing[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes and Tidal.[42][43]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Come Back to Earth"2:41
2."Hurt Feelings"4:05
3."What's the Use?"4:48
4."Perfecto"
  • McCormick
  • Terry Watson
  • Brion
  • Tee-WaTT
  • Brion[b]
3:35
5."Self Care"
5:45
6."Wings"Alexander Spit4:10
7."Ladders"
  • McCormick
  • Pimentel
  • Gitelman
  • Brion
  • Mudge
  • Kenneth Whalum
  • Pomo
  • Brion
  • Nice Rec[b]
4:47
8."Small Worlds"
4:31
9."Conversation Pt. 1"
3:30
10."Dunno"
  • Parson Brown
  • Mac Miller[b]
  • Brion[b]
3:57
11."Jet Fuel"
  • McCormick
  • Natche
  • Steve Lacy
  • Chris Lane
  • Philip Thomas
  • John MacGillivray
  • DJ Dahi
  • Lacy
  • Mac Miller
5:45
12."2009"Eric G5:47
13."So It Goes"
  • McCormick
  • Brion
  • Mac Miller
  • Brion[b]
5:12
Total length:58:33

Notes

Samples

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes and Tidal.[42][43]

Musicians

  • Jeff "Gitty" Gitelman – bass (track 1), guitar (tracks 1, 7)
  • Kevin Theodore – wurlitzer (track 1)
  • Dâm-Funk – keyboards (track 3), synthesizer (track 3)
  • Thundercat – bass (track 3)
  • Rob Gueringer – guitar (track 4)
  • Rodrigo Mora – congas (track 4), bongo drums (track 9)
  • Billy Aukstik – trumpet (track 7)
  • Daniel Hardaway – trumpet (tracks 7, 11)
  • Fabian Chavez – saxophone (track 7)
  • J.P. Floyd – trombone (track 7)
  • Kenneth Whalum – saxophone (tracks 7, 9)
  • Raymond Mason – trombone (track 7)
  • John Mayer – guitar (track 8)
  • Jon Brion – organ (track 8), vibraphone (track 12)
  • Aja Grant – piano (track 8), string arranger (track 12)
  • Steve Lacy – guitar (track 11)
  • Frederique Gnaman – guitar (track 12)
  • Niles Luther – strings (track 12)
  • Pedro Vallejos – strings (track 12)
  • Sarah Koenig-Plonskier – strings (track 12)

Technical

  • Big Jerm – recording (track 1)
  • Vic Wainstein – recording (tracks 2–8, 10, 11, 13)
  • Frank Vasquez – recording (track 3)
  • Juan Jarpa – recording (track 4)
  • E. Dan – recording (track 5)
  • Rayvon "Ray Dallas" LaPointe – recording (track 9)
  • Andrew Ching – recording (track 12)
  • Bea Go – recording (track 12)
  • Louis Fisher – recording (track 12)
  • Manny Marroquin – mixing (all tracks)
  • Chris Galland – mixing engineer (all tracks)
  • Robin Florent – mixing engineer assistant (all tracks)
  • Scott Desmarais – mixing engineer assistant (all tracks)
  • Mike Bozzi – mastering (all tracks)
  • Eric Caudieux – additional engineer (tracks 1, 4, 7, 13)
  • Ben Sedano – assistant engineer (tracks 5, 10)
  • John Armstrong – assistant engineer (tracks 5, 10)

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
New Zealand (RMNZ)[68] Gold 7,500^
United States (RIAA)[38] Gold 500,000double-dagger

^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label Ref.
Various August 3, 2018
[69]
October 26, 2018 Vinyl [70]

References[edit]

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