By Reece Jamison
My god! It’s already time for the first edition of The Purple and my first delve of the year into music and the world around us. This issue, I would like to discuss Paul McCartney’s new song, “Back in Brazil,” and Mac Miller’s “Self Care.”
Sir McCartney needs no introduction at this point. The 76-year-old, multi-instrumentalist just released his 17th solo studio album, Egypt Station, his first release since 2013’s New. On this new album, McCartney is still experimenting and formulating new dream fantasies for his listeners to become entangled and bewildered with (very much reminiscent of his time with the Wings).
One of the more interesting “stations” on the album is the track “Back in Brazil.” McCartney remarks on his YouTube series “Words Between The Tracks” that he had the idea for the song while in Brazil during a “free day.”
“I had a piano in the room of the hotel [omit], so I got this little riff and got this idea of…an imaginary story of two young Brazilian people, and it’s kind of dancey, so I wanted to put Brazilian rhythms and get the flavor,” he explained.
He does just that, delivering a sort of mini epic, if you will. The song almost sounds like it was pulled out of a musical, with a short story of two young lovers trying to find their way in the world, sweeping instrumental sections between verses, and a catchy tune that would have any young theater kids singing to their heart’s content in unison.
It’s no wonder McCartney has seen so much success in his career. He continues to deliver imaginative and well-crafted projects that feel very much in the experimental spirit of the Beatles without rehashing worn out themes and instrumentals.
Malcolm McCormick, known by his stage name Mac Miller, passed away on September 8 of an apparent overdose. He released his fifth studio album, Swimming, in August to general acclaim from listeners and critics alike. It would be remiss of me to not talk about McCormick, considering how much of an impact he made upon me personally and many others my age, both in terms of his artistry and his personality.
Mac Miller enjoyed a music career of varying tastes, originally gaining fame with his party hits from projects such as his break-out mixtape, K.I.D.S. (2010), and record label debut Blue Slide Park (2011). Unlike many of his contemporaries who found a niche sound and continue to cater to that demographic, Miller matured in his sound and artistry and began to experiment very heavily, releasing more underground sounding hip-hop with muddied drums and tripped out instrumentals, like on his 2013 album Watching Movies with the Sound Off, and recruiting star power such as Earl Sweatshirt, Schoolboy Q, Tyler the Creator, Action Bronson and more to help flesh out his new sound.
Since then, Miller has released three more subsequent albums, GO:OD AM, The Divine Feminine, and Swimming, all showcasing a brighter, more dance friendly R&B tracklist, while still maintaining a lot of his gravitas as an MC.
Swimming finds Miller grappling with some of the heavier themes in his life, including drug addiction, loneliness, depression, and yet, with his particular taste in irony, presenting these heavier topics with a sort of sublime application. His track “Self Care” probably best exemplifies this, as he grapples with his recent break-up with Ariana Grande and DUI arrest.
Miller offers up these feelings of loneliness and aimlessness on a driving drum beat with sinister synths accompanying it as he travels down the road of life. In a state of “oblivion,” Miller made these decisions, and remarks on the second half of the track after a beat switch up the more beautiful fact that he has time to work on himself and grow from these mistakes. The song juggles the two different sounds of his career, his love of hip-hop and a nuanced take on its fusion with R&B.
Ironically, the rapper ran out of time. What is left is a volume of music that is both childish and more mature, grappling with the act of growing up. In a way, his fans got to grow up with him. It’s up to us to learn from his mistakes and help each other through the hardest of times so that we don’t have to lose anyone else we hold dear.