Mac Miller: The Steel City’s Newest Sensation Has Madison In His Sights

Mac Miller 460 x 727 jpg

Pittsburgh gave us Christina Aguilera in the 1990s, and I guess that was pretty cool. A few years ago, the city produced a heavily tattooed, city pride-filled hip-hop phenom in Wiz Khalifa and his anthem “Black and Yellow.”  He’s not too shabby either, but the crown jewel of the Steel City may have just recently been unearthed.

Born Malcolm McCormick, Mac Miller has been creating and honing his hip-hop technique relentlessly since his freshman year of high school, which was, incidentally, only four years ago. Avoiding most of the social obligations attributed to high school once he discovered that “hip-hop is almost like a job,” Miller spent most of his free time writing and recording his own material in a home-made studio. The end results can be found on a series of mixtapes; Miller has released five since 2007, the most recent  Best Day Ever dropped earlier this year. The new tape spawned a track that cracked the Billboard Hot 100 in “Donald Trump.”  Friend and aforementioned fellow Pittsburgh superstar Wiz Khalifa joined Miller to sing the chorus on “Keep Floatin,” a song dedicated to a beloved herbal pastime both rappers enjoy.

Perhaps Miller’s undying dedication to his songwriting can be attributed to a lifelong fascination with music. He cites Outkast, The Beastie Boys, and A Tribe Called Quest, among others, as sources of influence for his songwriting. A self-taught musician, Miller can reportedly play guitar, bass, and drums, as well as pick his way around a piano, as the video below reveals:

Miller’s personal appearance matches that of thousands of other late-teens/early-twenties white guys across the United States: pierced ears, occasional stubble trying to pass as a beard, a backwards hat in the right situation, and a slightly bewildered look on his face. It’s pretty unlikely however that most average guys would produce lyrics like: “I been a fuck up if you ask me/But I’m still prayin’ that my teachers gonna pass me/Letters from my soul/Scripture from the Torah/Only give you what you like/I’m a station on Pandora”—but Miller did, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

While he does throw in some self-glorifying rhymes for good measure (“Mutha Fucka I feel like the hardest working kid in America/Playin’ with the pros, I remember bein’ amateur”), most of Miller’s lyrics highlight his shortcomings, his vices, and his dreams. Maybe that’s what makes him so accessible. Purposely or inadvertently, Miller has created work that showcases the childhood and adolescence of the average middle-class white kid across America, and has built an audience based on empathy, rather than admiration.

Blue Slide Park, Miller’s debut album, is projected to be released some time in the fourth quarter of 2011. Not unlike the majority of his other work, the album title has ties to his childhood: it’s the name of a local Pittsburgh park that Miller and his friends found suitable for their needs, regardless of age. While the track listing has not been released at this time, Miller’s prolific songwriting capabilities suggest that it will contain at least a majority of fresh material.

Miller completely oozes enthusiasm and love for his profession, which is what I respect most about him. Watching him light up in interviews when he talks about how important music is to him and seeing his wide smiles while he spits his creation gives me a lot of encouragement and reassurance as a fellow musician. On October 16th, I’m going to head down to the Orpheum Theatre to see a kid just six months older than me pour his heart and soul into what he presents onstage.  You should join me.

-Sam Clark

Want to see Mac live in Madison?  We recommend getting your tickets NOW!  They’re going fast and won’t be around much longer. 

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Related Content:  Just Announced Madison Concert + Win Tickets Before You Can Buy: Das Racist, 10.19.11

5 Responses

  1. […] Related Content:  Mac Miller: The Steel City’s Newest Sensation Has Madison In His Sights […]

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