Mac Miller Makes His Great New Album Larger With A Tiny Performance (Video)

NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts have been remarkable in recent months. While the cramped performances have historically been something that Hip-Hop Heads keep an eye on, June, July, and August’s shows have been especially impressive. Heads will surely want to check out the summer installments from Rakim, The Midnight Hour (Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge), Mumu Fresh with Black Thought, Jorja Smith, GoldLink, and Daniel Caesar. However, to start this week, National Public Radio invited Mac Miller to share songs from his brand new album, Swimming. Miller, in turn, invited a five-piece band that includes his esteemed pal, Thundercat…and even a string section for the last song.

Swimming is Miller’s fifth studio album, and it marks a level of maturity and introspection that he broached on his last LP, 2016’s The Divine Feminine. “Delusional Thomas” chooses three of the project’s standouts to perform in NPR’s office setting. He starts with the playful “Small Worlds” and Heads can tell that Miller and his guys are having fun. He takes a quick break to chat with the audience and then jumps into the mellow Funk of “What’s The Use?”

He ends the set with a song that is clearly very personal for the young MC, “2009.” A reflective Miller starts the track with: “I don’t need to lie no mo’ / Nowadays, all I do is shine, take a breath and ease my mind / She don’t cry no mo’ / She tell me that I get her high ‘cause an angel’s supposed to fly.” It’s apparent his work with masters of harmony and syncopation like Anderson .Paak, Dâm Funk, and CeeLo Green have influenced his sound on Swimming.

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Interestingly, noted bassist Thundercat eschews his instrument of choice on “Small Worlds” and instead gives an inspired shaker performance. He does jump on his ax for “What’s The Use?” and he even adds his distinct voice briefly. To make room for the four-piece, all-female string section, ‘Cat hops out the way for “2009” and let’s the ladies do their thing.