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The Most Underrated Rapper in the Game

Hip-hop artist Mac Miller
Hip-hop artist Mac MillerBrick Stowell

by Jeffrey Bissoy-Mattis

June 22, 2017

Every week, my friends and I debate over the most talented rappers in the game today. Kendrick Lamar, the future G.O.A.T. (Greatest of the All Time) always tops the list, while rappers such as J. Cole, Chance the Rapper, Joey Bada$$, and even Drake often make the cut. In a genre where there are so many budding rappers, each with their own individual style, it is easy to overlook certain artists.

The game has many rap veterans, some of which I mentioned above, but you also have to account for upstart rappers such as Post-Malone, Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, Kodak Black and Playboi Carti. The abundance of talent makes it hard to make room for everyone, especially with so much content being pushed out over the last musical calendar.

In the last year, Kendrick has dropped an album and-a-half (depends on how you classify Untitled Unmastered, which came out in spring 2016); Drake has debuted both Views and More Life; Chance The Rapper shook the world with Coloring Book; J. Cole released 4 Your Eyez Only; and Joey Bada$$ recently came out with All-Amerikkkan badass, which was criminally slept on, as it released during Kendrick's latest album, Damn. It would also be ludicrous if I didn't mention Travis Scott, Young Thug, and DJ Khaled for the heat they dished out last summer, for their respective albums Birds in the Trap sing McKnight, Jeffery and Major Key. This list could go on and on, as many of the game's premier artists have released at least one major project in the last 365.

During this same time period, an artist who has gone unnoticed — which sadly is the narrative of his career — is none other than Mac Miller, the white rapper out of Pennsylvania. #TeamNoShame, as I make this declaration: "EZ Mac with the Cheesy Raps," as he was once referred as early in his career, is one of the most underrated rappers in the rap game. How we've allowed Mac Miller to be as underappreciated is hard to fathom. He brings to the game quick wit and lyricism, humor, visualization and storytelling, and a flow that allows you to digest the story and ride the wave. You know that moment when the music lifts you to another world? That's riding the wave.

Mac has shown with each new project that he is unafraid to dabble with a new artistic approach. On his last three albums, The Divine Feminine (2016), GO:OD: AM (2015), and Watching Movies with the Sound Off (2013), Mac Miller demonstrates how far he's come since making pop-friendly rap songs, like "Donald Trump," in 2011. More evident in his style is a blend of traditional East Coast flair and cool, sharper lyricism, smoother delivery, and deeper and better-structured storytelling, on top of a wavy beat. Word of caution: Don't let the declining record sales deceive you. Like fine wine, Mac's gotten better with age.

Flow is what makes you nod your head and ride the wave, while lyricism adds diction and wordplay that makes you go "ooooo." Now, rappers that can tell a great story while applying both techniques are on another level. Kendrick, Chance, and old-school Kanye come to mind as rappers who had/have the whole package. I'm not saying that Mac Miller is a future G.O.A.T. or anything like that, but he brings to the game a certain all-around repertoire that you don't get from many rappers. Simply put, there are few rappers smoother on the mic than Mac Miller — so smooth, in fact, that Jay-Z, fresh off of being the first rapper inducted into the Songwriter Hall of Fame, gave Mac Miller a shout-out on Twitter, as he thanked rappers that have influenced him and hip-hop:

One more time for the folks in the back, "Mac Miller nice too though." The Pittsburgh native has been slept on for far too long, and I think it's about time we give him the respect and recognition he deserves.

Jeffrey Bissoy-Mattis is a researcher at APM Reports. He's a Twin Cities native by way of Yaoundé, Cameroon. When he's not in the zone researching, you can find him binge-watching Master of None, perfecting Spanish, or working on his podcast, Maintainin', which debuts this summer. Follow him on Twitter @JefeThaNomad.


Mac Miller - official site

Mac Miller, 'The Divine Feminine'
Mac Miller's 2016 album, 'The Divine Feminine'
Warner Bros. Records