“I’m a white rapper, they always call me Shady.” That’s from “Brand Name,” just one of the stronger cuts off Mac Miller’s major label debut. And I don’t think that’s true. Mac Miller started as a party rapper, making unimaginative songs with a flow that sounds at once quick and laid back. Nothing like Eminem, who burst on the scene with ultra-violent, ultra-personal rants about Kim and spitting dis tracks that crushed any who dared step to him. Mac was no Marshall Mathers. Not even close.

But on his latest album, he’s getting much better. Working with major label production budgets has definitely cleaned him up, but the content, too, seems to have risen above the superficial tripe he brought before. And the crowd he runs with helps him rise, including Ab-Soul and the lead singer of Little Dragon.

In short: This is a good record. Much better than we had any right to expect, and even good enough to make me want more.

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