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Mac Miller | photo by Elsah Attar for NPR

Pittsburgh MC Mac Miller just dropped Swimming, his fifth studio release, on Friday, and fans have gotten their first glimpse of a live rendition before he takes the Swimming Tour on the road thanks to NPR’s Tiny Desk.

Miller, who hasn’t released anything since The Divine Feminine in 2016, is quickly taking the hip hop world by storm after re-emerging into the scene with almost no notice. After quickly announcing singles just a few weeks before the LP’s due date, fans shifted their attention away from Miller’s personal life and whirlwind breakup from singer Ariana Grande and refocused on why they loved him to begin with: he’s an artist, and Swimming is brilliant show of his skill.

Miller takes us through three new tracks, “Small World,” “What’s the Use?” — which featured accompaniment from renowned bassist Thundercat, a frequent feature on Miller’s records — and “2009.” Backed by an intense string section and looping keys, the vibe of this set is totally collaborative. The energy flowing from Miller while he sings is so boisterous and carefree, a complete shift from where the world thought his headspace has been. This group is fun.

Swimming takes us through Miller’s past two years, and all of the ups and downs he’s faced. There are moments of incredible lightness, as well as moments of harsh maturity. It’s an album from someone who NPR has deemed “a young man who’s beginning to crack the code.” This album is a turning point in Miller’s career, and that’s evident. He’s figuring things out, and if you listen, you can hear it. His lyrics are well spoken and intricate and hit you where it really, really hurts. It’s intentional and so well produced and if you don’t take the next thirteen minutes to watch his session, you’re missing out.

Mac Miller will be joined by Thundercats durin his upcoming tour this fall, and they play The Fillmore on November 20th. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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