DXnext: Mac Miller
The Steel City's next big star talks about his willingness to experiment with his music, growing up as an ATLiens fan, and how Wiz Khalifa has acted as Mac's big brother
The Hip Hop scene in Pittsburgh has gotten a lot of exposure lately. Wiz Khalifa's "Blacka and Yellow" rhymes have given the city a reason to be proud of its music, and that music scene is ever-expanding. Mac Miller, an 18 year-old, fresh out of high school Steel City emcee is making big waves in Rap with the help of a highly regarded Kids mixtape and a growing list of collaborating supporters. Mac's laid back style and flow has some clear old school influences, but Miller continuously rhymes about what he knows best: being young and having fun. And he's letting DXnext into the party.
Introduction To Hip Hop: "Well I listen to all different types of music. I play piano, guitar and the drums. So I grew up listening to The Beatles, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, G Love & The Special Sauce. I always liked classic Hip Hop. I had older friends and they gave me the music to listen to and I got into it. I remember being younger and listening to [Outkast's] ATLiens and looking at the lyrics inside. I have this memory of being young and pale listening to the Outkast album and trying to rap along as fast as I could. That helped me to where I am now, getting rhythm down early."
Spit These Bars: "I was always very experimental with the different types of music I made. I would make an Indie Rock song and a Rap song. I was learning all of this at a young age. For Christmas/Hannukah, my family celebrates both because my mom is Jewish and my dad is Christian, I got a keyboard one year for the holiday and I used to play it 24/7, just making music and writing raps. Once I got to high school we were smoking weed a lot and would sit in my friends’ attic all day and I discovered that I can freestyle real well. We used to just play countless beats and rap for hours and hours at a time. Finally, one of my friends said, 'You should start recording this stuff. I have a mic and a computer in my basement and you can lay some stuff down.' I said 'Yeah, cool. I will try it out.' I remember recording my first song and I just fell in love with the entire process. When I was 15 I wanted to make a mixtape. I did not know everything about making a mixtape so I would just record songs every night and write ridiculous amounts. I would just write rhymes all day at school and shit. The beat’s I was spitting over when I was 15 was really old school stuff. I would spit over Alchemist beats and DJ Premier beats. I just never let up with writing and recording."
Old School Fans: "That is a really cool thing about everything is going on. As much as I love classic Hip Hop and as much as the classics is a part of who I am as an artist, I also do a lot of experimenting, which has broadened my fanbase. When I had my mixtape drop, I went into a local store in my town to do some signings. The difference in ages of people who came through just blew me away. There was a kid that was nine years old who drove an hour with his mom to come and see me and next in line would be two 36 year-old dudes that fuck with me because I was spittin'. When it comes down to it, the fans that vibe with me for the most part are kids my age, because I rap about things they do on a daily basis. But the reason why I feel I also touch an older audience is because when they listen to my music they can remember of when they were my age. It’s cool because as an artist, making music so young and being real, as the years go people will grow with me. They will see what Mac is rapping about when he is 18 and as the years go on how mature he will be and how I am going to be coming into my own. That is something that is really unique about my own career."
Black and Yellow: "The Rap scene in Pittsburgh is a lot deeper than people know. Pittsburgh has a really big Hip Hop scene within the city, it may not shine like New York City or Atlanta but there are a lot of people that spit. The scene is so local that it gave me the ability to be young and getting on shows and performing at a young age."
Big Brother: "Wiz [Khalifa] has been a big brother to me with this music thing so far. Our relationship is beyond music. He really is just my homie, whether I will be making music or not. He has really helped me in so many ways and reached out that I am really coming into my own now and carving my own path which is something important to the both of us. He has basically been like a big brother figure to me. He would record at the same studio and I ran into him and we would smoke up and kick it. It wasn’t the type of thing where he 'put me on,' so to speak, it was more like when I was ready he hopped on a song with me. He hopped on the mixtape before Kids called The High Life and that helped me get a lot of exposure. As far as our relationship goes, that is just my homie. If I wanted to, I could be on The Waken Baken Tour and go with him everywhere but I just want to carve my own path and that means a lot to me."
Dot Com Got It Goin' On: "It’s just crazy because everybody from all over the world can find me just by typing my name into Google or stumbling across on me on a website or YouTube or somewhere. The Internet just creates all new fans that I never thought I could get. The amount of fans I have been able to reach by just being on the Internet has blown me away. I get hit up by people who speak different languages and they tell me how much they love my music. It is a blessing that the Internet gives artists the ability to touch fan bases and create new varieties of fan bases by just having an entire Internet community."
College?: "I have never been a school-oriented person. However, college is something I would really want to do in the future. What I am doing right now is an opportunity that not many people get to do. I am really focusing on this music stuff that college would be a waste of money right now. College is something I would want to do when I get older. Going to college, strictly to learn, would be a blessing in itself. If I become very successful with this music stuff then going to college would make more sense just to learn and not necessarily to find a job. Right now though, I am using experience to soak up knowledge as oppose to just sitting in a class all day."
High School High: "I was pretty much the class down. I have never really been that shy. I was always an outspoken individual just hanging out with all different kinds of people. From early on in high school, I knew I wanted to do music. That was a goal of mine early on. I was not really focused on school while I was in school it was more of just an experience and I wanted to enjoy myself."
Getting Down To Business: "A lot of people give record labels a bad name nowadays. People are always trying to say not to do the label thing. For me, I want to be with a label when it’s time to be with a label. It really means a lot to me to do what I have been doing, carving my own lane and doing things with my team and such. I have a lot of fun doing what I am doing so I am not really rushing to go to a label. When it’s time and I can work out the right deal, I would definitely be down. Right now it is just better for me to build up myself and come into my own as an artist and just see where that takes me. Way back in the day, there was an opportunity to sign with a label and Wiz told me that I was not ready for a label yet. I don’t even know if it was real, some people hit you up and say they are from a label and may not actually be from a label. It was good that Wiz was there to offer me some guidance for that considering all he has been through. I just need to create myself as an artist and reach my full potential before I go to a label."
Future Aspirations: "Right now I am traveling as much as possible and have a few more videos from Kids to drop. I want to release [another] mixtape before the end of the year. I am working on the album right now and have a real good situation of making music with the people I am working with. I don’t really have the strictest plans right now but I just got to work with the flow."
Collaboration: "I am definitely going to be working with my homie, Smoke DZA. Fashawn and I are about to do a joint. I am going to be going in the studio with Chiddy Bang. Then I am going to go to New York City and I will be working with Just Blaze a little bit and also Buckwild. Working with Buckwild is going to be sweet for me because Big L has been my favorite rapper for so long and he has produced so much stuff with L, so that will be really awesome. I really feel most comfortable working with Big Dan and Big Jerm because those are my hometown people and I do what I can to help out with producing too. I am just open to working with as many people as possible. I really just keep an open mind to working with whomever. That is a growing experience in itself, just working with all different types of people."