Mac Miller's "Watching Movies With The Sound Off" Turns 10

BYWyatt Westlake3.5K Views
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"Watching Movies With The Sound Off" was a major step for Mac Miller’s career and development as an artist. We revisit the album for its 10th anniversary.

2023 marks the 10th anniversary of Mac Miller’s second studio album, Watching Movies with the Sound Off. His sophomore album arrived on June 18, 2013 -- the same day as Kanye West's Yeezus and J. Cole's Born Sinner -- via Rostrum Records. Watching Movies with the Sound Off followed Mac Miller’s 2012 mixtape, Macadelic, an effort that saw him branching out from the sounds of his debut album, Blue Slide Park. Watching Movies With The Sound Off continued to move further away from his debut both stylistically and artistically. 

His debut album was an introduction to Mac Miller without a guest feature attached to the tracklist. However, Watching Movies with the Sound Off had a stacked guest list of talented artists, including Earl Sweatshirt, Ab-Soul, Niki Randa, Action Bronson, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Electronica, and Tyler, The Creator. Meanwhile, he tapped a star-roster of producers to flesh out the sound of the project, such as Earl Sweatshirt, Flying Lotus, Clams Casino, ID Labs, Pharrell, The Alchemist, Sap, Diplo, and Mac Miller himself. Watching Movies with the Sound Off was its very own world with an array of renowned artists tapping into a sound that Mac Miller had not previously explored. Today, we’re looking back at Mac Miller’s Watching Movies with the Sound Off for its 10th anniversary.

A Bizarre Look Into Mac Miller's Psyche

Watching Movies With The Sound Off marked a clear departure from both Blue Slide Park and Macadelic. Both projects included party-ready songs with slick punchlines that showcased Mac Miller’s charisma. Still, Macadelic specifically saw Mac branching out and trying out different styles, making both festival-approved bangers and vulnerable songs that emphasized melody. But, compared to his previous work, Mac Miller's artistic risks in Watching Movies With The Sound Off paid off tenfold. The low and high-pitched vocals on songs like “The Star Room,” “I’m Not Real,” and “Gees” provided psychedelic textures to the album’s production. These artistic decisions throughout the effort made for Mac Miller’s best work at the time. Sadly, the album revealed more about Mac Miller’s complicated relationship with drugs that led to his passing in 2018. 

In Watching Movies With The Sound Off, Mac Miller leaned further into experimenting with his rap style, songwriting, and song choices. Many of the records dived into personal matters, some of which learned into the grim territory. However, Mac still provided his signature wit and humor in his rapping, with energetic songs like “Watching Movies” and “Goosebumpz.” The melody-driven tracks like “Objects in the Mirror” and “REMember” made for some of his most emotionally transparent tracks at the time.

Mac Miller As A Producer

Watching Movies With The Sound Off was eclectic in lyrical content, style, and production and the collaborations reflected that. The features from Mac Miller’s rap peers may have seemed unexpected on paper, but the execution paired perfectly with the overall direction of the project. He goofs around with Ab-Soul, Tyler, The Creator, and ScHoolboy Q, flexes his bars with Action Bronson, and gets esoteric with Jay Electronica. Furthermore, the production choices felt like a breath of fresh air for Mac Miller, whether it was choppy grooves from Flying Lotus and Clams Casino or the ethereal production from ID Labs and AdoTheGod. While many producers and featured artists helped Mac Miller execute his vision, he was still the star of the show.

Watching Movies with the Sound Off was a significant turning point in Mac Miller’s career, especially after he started producing under the name Larry Fisherman. He solely produced multiple album highlights such as “Avian” and “Aquarium.” The talent of Mac Miller as a new producer was quite remarkable. He would produce an instrumental EP and an entire Vince Staples mixtape that same year, as well as being more involved in the production of future releases like Faces and Swimming.

The Album Paved The Way For Mac's Future Releases

Watching Movies with the Sound Off proved to be a pivotal moment in Mac Miller’s career. However, it also paved the way for Mac Miller’s future releases. He would dive deeper into the quirkiness and depressed lyrics of Watching Movies on the Faces mixtape, which he produced the majority of. His third studio album, GO:OD AM contained the energy of songs like “Matches,” and even included a sequel to the song. Both GO:OD AM and The Divine Feminine also consisted of a multitude of love songs that expanded on records like “Youforia." The Divine Feminine went even further, making love and passion its main themes. Mac’s affinity for melody shined on Watching Movies With The Sound Off but it also made for standout moments on Swimming, which was also very emotionally vulnerable. 

Watching Movies with the Sound Off was a major step for Mac Miller’s career and development as an artist. Compared to his previous works, the album showed growth for Mac Miller both as a rapper and as a producer. His willingness to experiment and take risks with the album allowed him to showcase his versatility on future albums.

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About The Author
Wyatt Westlake is a writer from Somerville, MA. He has been writing about hip hop, RnB, and beyond for almost a decade, joining the HNHH team in 2023. Majoring in Communication Studies, he is currently finishing his BA at Temple University. Wyatt is also a radio presenter, hosting his own shows and curating eclectic playlists since 2019. An avid concert-goer, one all-time moment for him was when Dave brought him onstage to perform “Thiago Silva” in front of a sold-out crowd.