Exclusive: Mac Miller - The RAPstation Interview

If you've seen MTV2's reality show, Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family, then you have a little insight into how the 21-year-old rapper is living these days. In one word, he's living large. The Pittsburgh native catapulted to superstardom as soon as his first full-length album, Blue Park Slide, debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts and sold over 144,000 copies in its first week—independently. He's been on Forbes Top 30 Under 30 List, Billboard called him the "new blueprint for success" and he was featured on the cover of XXL's 2011 Freshman Class issue. The trajectory he's on seems to just get higher and higher. Millers' sophomore effort, Watching Movies with the Sound Off, dropped June 18, 2013 on Rostrum Records. Currently on the road in support of the album, Miller took some time to dive head first into a slew of topics ranging from misogyny and Lord Finesse to Tyler, the Creator and "why sex sells." Without further ado, Mr. Miller… What got you into hip-hop? People always ask me this question and I think they just want to know why I listen to it, but to me, it's the same reason I would listen to rock or anything else. It's just music. That's dope. I saw that video of you rapping the Sugar Hill Gang when you were really little. That was pretty tight. It's so funny. At least I had pants on in that video. In a lot of videos from that era of my life, I didn't have pants on. So I was glad I had pants on in that one. Well, I hear you don't have them on with this new album cover. Ahhhh! Oh that's a segway. Hell yeah. I'm pretty good at my job. [Laughs] Beautifully done. Nice work. But yeah, I don't have any pants on the new cover. We'll get to that. Ok. Sick. How did you get connected with Rostrum and what about the label was so appealing? You were just 15. I mean, when I was 15, I was going to Fugazi shows, skipping school and smoking weed. I didn't have any career goals. When we started everything, it was me, Q and TreeJ. We would make mixtapes and there was this song on my first mixtape called "On Some Real Shit." The first mixtape by Mac Miller is called On Some Real Shit. It had a video to it. Artie [Vice President Arthur Pitt] saw the video and they said I had a gift. So they kind of watched me and we were friends. Were you surprised when you got signed? Or were you like hell yeah, I deserve this? For me, it was my one goal. I wasn't really set up to go to college. So my goal was to make rapping a profession for real so I could make money and survive. Did you leave school? No. See, by the time I was 17, I started to get a little buzz so I barely went to school. My teachers were pretty cool though. They didn't trip on me too much. At my school, you could basically choose if you wanted to learn or not. Senior year, I had an apartment right across the street from school. I would go to class sometimes, sometimes not. I barely finished at the end. How old were you when your first album came out? I was 19. When this album debuted at number 1 and broke the previous record held by Tha Dogg Pound, what was going through your mind? When it happened, I was excited and everything, but that's what I set out to do. That's amazing. I'm sure there are a lot of people that set out with those goals and never come close to hitting it. What do it think it is about your music that has such mass appeal and is able to sell 144,000 copies in its first week? At that point, I wasn't really talking about any serious stuff in my music too much. It's feel good music, so people listen to it and forget about their issues and problems. During that period when you drinking a lot and getting into "lean," I read you gained a lot of weight. What did you do to get back in shape? I was like 190 lbs. I was like really fat. And so I just started eating way better and working out three times a week and then I saw the weight disappear. It felt pretty awesome. Everyone was like 'oh you're skinny now.' Now it's time to talk about some of misogynistic lyrics in your music. I'm not denying it, but do you have examples? Well, like the P word, B word and H word. Don't judge me. I went to catholic school [laughs]. Is it the P word, 'p*ssy?' Really? [Silence] Really? [Laughs] Hey, this is hard for me, too. You're learning just as much about me as I am about you. I'm just being honest. Are you referring to groupies a lot in your music? Right, but not even just the groupies. Just some girls are really ridiculous. There's a difference. I've seen some girls do some pretty ridiculous things. As far as the p word, I think it's the most powerful word in the world. [Laughs] I'm serious. No, I know. I just can't believe we're having this conversation. The last song on my album, "Euphoria," is all about it. It's kind of like the place of peace and comfort, or the source. I wouldn't think of myself as a misogynistic person at all. What about some of the people that are on the album? The same thing goes for all of us. You take emotion from your life and you write characters. You talk about different aesthetics about people. Like on a song like "Goosebumps," the reason it's not on the original track list is because it was just 'bit*h, bit*h, bit*h, fu*k, fu*k, fu*k.' But it's painting a picture of a certain female. Tyler writes a lot about love and having a girl with emotions and stuff like that. I think people just spend time in different worlds, and one of those worlds, as negative as it may appear, is the misogynistic world, but one thing I believe is everything comes in balances. Have you found a respectable, intelligent woman? Yes, I found a bunch [laughs]. So you know the difference first hand. Yes, hell yeah. That's important. There are some of us out there [laughs]. Yeah, there's a lot. I find them few and far between. It's really hard for me to relate. A lot of them act pretty ridiculous, as you said. I see these girls throwing themselves at rappers and I want to vomit. And that's the thing. I would think as a female, you wouldn't want to be grouped in a group with those types of girls. It just blows my mind. The reason I bring this up is because Chuck D always tells me to put to my opinion in my writing. I don't see men objectified in print or videos nearly as much as women and I think there's a double standard. I'm just sick of seeing it everywhere. I think probably because the naked male body is just weird looking. I'm just saying. But you're not gay. A penis is weird. At the same time, how I see it is on the covers and in ads, they do have dudes with the fu*king shirtless, shiny six pack, but I think the issue is that these ads and things that younger kids see, especially girls, dudes can get away with being uglier, but for girls, beauty is more of a thing that they chase. Well, there are a lot of societal pressures and an unrealistic "standard" of what a woman is "supposed" to look like. In magazines, you get these pictures of women that painted as this sick display of perfection, and they have a lot of incredible makeup and they have Photoshop, and things that make them look perfect. What girls don't know is that these images aren't reachable. When you meet them in real life, they don't look the same as that, ever. I think now, I don't know, super skinny girls aren't really sought after. Dudes have a lot of different tastes. You're 21, which is relatively young. I think it will be interesting to see what Mac Miller does in the future. I want to see how you evolve. You said on this new record, you abandoned what you did on the first one. What's different this time around? That's surprising to hear you heard so much misogyny. I didn't think the record had anything too heavy. It deals a lot with concepts and idealism, surrealism. I just focused on certain ideas. It was more of a journey into my head, where before I was afraid to be open about myself and my own issues with myself, or my own insecurities, you know what I'm saying? When you're younger, you're scared to do that. So you paint this picture where you don't have to give away too much. When you make a record for yourself and you're not thinking about making a number one album, and you're not thinking about what your fans want to hear, you're just making a record from inside yourself. I feel that's the difference here. Everyone's like 'what made you change as a person?' And for me, it's like the most me I've ever been. So you're more authentic? The cool thing is you can feel that. That's what's dope to me. I thought everyone was going to be like 'this isn't really you,' but you can hear the emotion in my voice. You can feel it. It sounds authentic. When I listen to my first record, they don't sound- not that they're bad as personas- they aren't all personas, let me not trash my own shit. This shit was just deeper and I created something that was a representation of who I am. So was that the concept behind the album artwork then? That's part of it. I'm being objectified on my album cover. You can see my titties right there. That's why I did. Because sex sells [laughs]. It's the best to see super sexual ads and then at the end, it's like 'Got Milk?' And you're like wait, what? Then you're like what, that's fucked up, I don't even like Mercedes. I'm going to get the Mop and Glo and I don't know why [laughs]. Tell me more about the cover. For the album cover though, there's a lot of symbolism in there. Like the table in the picture, that's the first table I ever had when I was a baby. I remember looking at it. Here's some exclusive information- the thing that was interesting about this table is when I was little, I looked at it like this huge table, but when I got older, I looked at it and thought, 'wow this shit is tiny.' I feel like that says a lot more about perception and stuff like that. Everything about this album has to do with layers. The more you listen, the more you go through and the more you look at the cover, the more you'll find. That's what I'm most proud of. For me, this album can last because you're not going to get it right away. You can't listen to it once and hear all of it. You have to listen to it in different situations or points in time. If you drove around in a sunny day, it would make you feel like this. If you were in a dark opium den like where I made it, you would hear it like this. Everything is all perception and how your state of mind affects how you see it. Is there pressure for it to perform as well as the first one? To me, I'm not planning on selling a lot. I don't think it will do a lot in the first week. Fuck the first week. I think it will do more in the 302nd week. Billboard called you "the new blueprint for success." What do you think about that? I love the independents. It's really a fear thing. I'm afraid to put my career in anyone else's hands because it's so precious to me. Even where I'm at now, it's scary to see anyone represent me. Good thing you have Arthur and all those guys you've had since the beginning. Hell yeah. Artie is one of my favorite people in world. He set up a couple of interviews for me with Wiz Khalifa and I kind of chewed him out in an email because he took so long to line it up. I feel bad now. Don't feel bad. I've called that mother fu*king screaming at him. I mean I love him, but yeah. Guess how many emails it took to get you on the phone? One? Forty. Forty?! It's not that complicated [laughs]. It's funny. After 40 emails, I wonder what type of person you think I'm going to be to talk to. It's like 'What are you doing?' Oh, just sitting in my house eating mac and cheese. The past two weeks have been crazy. This is the only thing I have to do today is sit in my house and talk to you. Must be rare. So I have to ask. What happened with Lord Finesse? I rhymed on his beat when I was young and I didn't expect it to have 30 million views. I was just a young ass kid who couldn't afford a beat, so I rapped on one of my favorite producer's beat and it turned into a lawsuit. It's cool. It's business. I'm cool with him now. He's cool. I just don't fuck with his lawyer. You didn't hear this from me-unless you heard it from me before we settled- I'm really on a hush order, but he didn't clear the Oscar Peterson sample that he used on his record. I was just pissed at the lawyer. When I left, I shook Finesse's hand, but I didn't even look at the lawyer. I think this dude was young and he was trying to get his shit out there. He sued me with some other people, as well. Now I'm able to relax. It's just money. Well, I know who I'm calling though if I need a loan. Yeah. Haha. I got you. By Kyle Eustice for RAPstation.com