Mac Miller might seem like just another Internet rapper, until you find out just how popular he actually is. After dropping his mixtape K.I.D.S. last summer, the 19-year-old Pittsburgh native’s career has been on the upswing. He’s quietly amassed over 550,000 followers on Twitter. A number of his videos on YouTube have over 10 million views, including “Nikes On My Feet,” “Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza,” and “Donald Trump,” and his recent EP, On and On and Beyond, has sold over 40,000 copies, independently through Rostrum Records.
To top it all off, he just announced the title of his upcoming album Blue Slide Park, due sometime in the fall. And although the Most Dope General seems to be on the bubble (just like his smoking buddy and labelmate Wiz Khalifa was last year), Mac isn’t ready to hop onto a major label just yet. We got on the horn with the artist formerly known as Easy Mac to talk about his new album, his relationship with producers E. Dan and Big Jerm, and rumors of secretly signing to a major label.
Interview by Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)
You just announced the title for your upcoming album, Blue Slide Park. Where does that title come from?
Blue Slide Park is a playground/park that’s around the city of Pittsburgh. It’s a spot that we hung out at as little kids. But then we came back when we got older and drank and smoked there. It was the hangout spot. So it’s just a spot for a lot of people’s first memories.
I used to play Little League around there. I remember parties there, running from the cops, just a lot of stuff that I’ve done. Everything from when I was like 6 years old to memories of last night. Actually, last night we released the title so we went down there to go chill and kick it. But right when we rolled in, ten minutes later, cops pulled up. [Laughs.]
[It doesn’t have a date but] it will be out soon. I don’t have a required thing that I have to have a date and meet it. It’s coming out through Rostrum in the fall, and I want to do it when it feels right to me.
What is the goal for this record?
I don’t know, man. It’s just a crazy thing just to have an album. I had an album when I was 15, but it was all old DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and Alchemist instrumentals that I burned onto a CD, put a little cover on, and sold.
It’s just kind of crazy to get from there to a real album. Obviously I want to see it do as well as possible. But to go to a CD store and see my album, to hold it in my hand as an album, it just means a lot more than the stuff I’ve done in the past.
How have you been working on the album?
I’m doing the majority of it in Pittsburgh at ID labs with E. Dan and Big Jerm. I got a key to the lab now so I can just stay in there as long as I want. I’ll wake up at 3:30, shower, and then head right to the studio. I’ll be in there until seven or eight a.m., then drive back, and do the same thing.
I have a lot of songs done because I record at a rapid pace. If I wanted to I could be like, ‘Okay, I’m done,’ and then take the songs that I have. But it’s kind of hard for me to put a halt on things when I want to continue to push myself to make better music.
Earlier this year, you put out The Best Day Ever and it’s done pretty well hasn’t it?
Yeah. The reaction has definitely been way crazier than I expected. My shows have been crazy and I just see my fans and momentum spreading and it’s getting bigger. I’m getting recognized more when I go out.
You mention your shows, and it seems like you’ve made the jump from playing small venues to larger venues.
Yeah, I’ve been able to rock a couple of big venues. The thing is I’m not 100% sure how big I could go just by myself headlining with no other acts. I did a show in Milwaukee where I was the main act, [and there were] like 4,000 people. I don’t think I could do that everytime, but I would hope.
But when I did the Wiz Khalifa tour, there were like 8500 people in the crowd. What shocks me is that I can really rock that many people, get them to put their hands in the air, get them to move, and be all into what’s going on.
It seems like you’re really influencing these kids with how they dress. Do you see that at your shows?
[Laughs.] I feel like it means everything to see there are kids that have the same clothes that I rock because they’ve seen it in videos I’ve done. I see people rocking an ONLY hat and I know for a fact that they’re rocking it because they saw you rocking it in my video.
I’m not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing to be influencing kids like that, but I think it’s a good thing. I didn’t think it would really get to that point, but at my shows you see a bunch of kids that look just like me. But then you see a lot of [fans at the show] because they want to see what the show is like.
I hear you’re selling a lot of merchandise on your tour. What kind of stuff are people buying?
[Laughs.] Yeah. It’s simple stuff. We have t-shirts, sweatshirts, bracelets, and we’re about to get hats. We don’t really charge too much. I remember when I used to go to shows and the t-shirts were like $60. We sell them for like $20. We just sell stuff that’s regular as hell. Merch is definitely a very important thing.
How did you build such a loyal fanbase?
I think the reason that my fans are super loyal is because when I was putting out mixtapes that weren’t really getting that much attention, kids would find them somehow. Kids would tweet their friends or however people got them back in the day. Kids would just hit me up on Facebook and I would talk to them and stuff like that.
I think it just started this thing where kids would go around and tell their friends about me. Word of mouth is what was really building things up for me. They would tell their friends and support me super heavy because they talked to me on Facebook Chat or Ustream or stuff like that. I used to have under 100 people in my Ustream so I used to have kids type words for me to freestyle to. I would do it and they kind of started repping me because no one else knew who I was.