Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller is garnering wide appeal with songs named for Donald Trump and Nike, but Torontonians may have noted his attempts to steal some shine from our Drake.
“It was all in good fun,” said Miller of telling an interviewer that he, not Drizzy, whom he hasn’t met, was “the coolest Jewish rapper.”
However, the 19-year-old upstart was also quick to embrace the idea of collaborating with Drake suggesting “maybe we could make a Hanukah song.”
Responding on Twitter, Drake said “Haaaaaa . . . s–t like this can only be settled in Tel Aviv. Birthright sound clash.”
Maybe it should be settled here in Drake’s home town; Mac Miller clearly has a growing throng of fans here. His first headlining show here, in March, was moved from the Mod Club to the larger Opera House to meet demand; it sold out. His Saturday show at Kool Haus — with a capacity of 2,500 people, three times that of the Opera House — is sold out, too.
Tickets are still available for Sunday’s show, but it’s still a remarkable trajectory for an artist still working on his debut full-length album. (Just last week he announced the title of the forthcoming debut Blue Slide Park in a hilarious online video.) In the meantime Miller has six mixtapes to his name, and the endorsement from fellow Pittsburgh rapper and labelmate Wiz Khalifa, and even scored a spot in the XXL magazine’s authoritative Freshman Class of 2011.
more after the jump
“I have a lot of songs definitely done, but I don’t really have a deadline for myself yet,” Miller told the Star about the project in a phone interview. “Blue Slide Park is park in Pittsburgh that a lot of my friends and I grew up at and where we partied when we were older. There’s also a deeper concept to it, but I’m not letting that out yet.”
Miller’s story seems relatable to lots of his young fans, as in cheerily ambitious lyrics on “Knock Knock”: “I feel like a million bucks/ But my money don’t really feel like I do/ And from the ground I built my own damn buzz/ People was amazed I was still in high school/ But now I’m out, and money what I’m ’bout . . .”
With more than 10 million YouTube views apiece, his most popular mixtape salvos — “Nikes on My Feet,” “Donald Trump” and “Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza” — showcase goofily aggressive lyrics that match his demeanour and a stripped-down throwback sound. The latter is definitely reflected on the pending disc, said the tattoo-covered , backwards-baseball-cap-wearing emcee.
“It means a lot for me to have my first album to be very hip-hop based,” he said. “There’s also a lot of other really cool music, because I do play guitar and I want to push my fans boundaries as well as my own.”
One of two sons of a photographer mother and architect father, Miller ditched piano lessons at 6 and continued on his own, also teaching himself to play several other instruments. “I’ve never liked to be classically trained. I never liked lessons or people telling me what I should do with music. Hip hop for me was something that I could do that I didn’t need to go to school for.
“I also wasn’t always the best musician; I can’t really read music very well and the competition in being a professional musician is just ridiculous. Hip hop was something that I love and most importantly was just fun in every aspect.”
Miller, who began freestyling at local haunts at 15, credits his focus for the growing acclaim — including 600,000 Twitter followers — that has allowed him to work with A-list producers, such as DJ Premier, Q-Tip and Jazzy Jeff. The latter even said, “Mac to me is a young Will (Smith). He wants to have fun, he has a great time with his music, he’s 19 years old and living life to the fullest.”
Which is not to say Miller’s partying. “For instance, working on my album, I’ve been living in the studio pretty much, after being on tour for five months,” the rapper says. “A lot of people would tell me that I should take some time off and relax and be a normal kid for a little bit and just hang out, like, go to the pool.
“But I’ve just been in the studio 24-7. Then, there’s being involved in everything that goes into anything with my album — from how its promoted, what we’re doing for marketing, how the tours have been set up, the album title.
“I haven’t been able to spend as much time with people in my life that don’t feel like staying in the studio with me all night. Hopefully, they understand. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. I feel I’ve been given a one in a billion opportunity to really make something of my life with music. I feel like me taking a day that’s not working with it and doing as much as I can is kind of spitting in the face of people who don’t have this opportunity.”
And, he certainly doesn’t have time to be concerned about living up to expectations, he said.
“I think that people that think too much about what to expect kind of cut themselves short of what they’re capable of doing. Why would I worry about what people are expecting me to do and what they want me to do and not worry about what I want my music to be and where I want to take it? I try to block all that stuff out and take it to a place that’s more about my creativity and where I can see it going.
“Besides, every time I set a goal, I kind of pass it with flying colours. My dream has been to tour overseas and now in the fall I have whole European tour scheduled and I’m selling out shows in places like Paris and Amsterdam and Toronto. It’s just really cool and it’s crazy the power of music to really gather as many people as it does across the whole entire world.”