At the tender age of 21, Mac Miller is in a pretty favorable position. By stringing together poignant lines and a classical hip-hop sound, he plunged into the upper echelon of music. With his second album Watching Movies with the Sound Off going No. 3 this year on Billboard — independently, by the way — you could only marvel at his musical savvy and desire for success. A multi-faceted performer, Miller released an iTunes exclusive EP called You under an alias he calls Larry Lovestein. It’s a collection of jazz tracks and features soft, affective vocals from the young star. As a producer, Miller operates under the moniker Larry Fisherman, who’s responsible for the beat tape Run On Sentences and a project he co-produced with Vince Staples called Stolen Youth. On Halloween he dropped a brand new mixtape–and introduced a new alter ego by the same name, Delusional Thomas. It was produced entirely under his Larry Fisherman alias. Mac’s also got a television show Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family that premiered earlier this year on MTV. You can expect the second season to launch early in 2014. No matter what he’s calling himself, Mac Miller’s creative output sets him lightyears ahead of his competition.
We sat down with Miller to talk about being an independent artist, the success of his album, Kendrick’s “Control” verse, his love for the Steelers, and more. Get to know Mac Miller below and pick up a copy of Watching Movies With The Sound Off on iTunes.
With Watching Movies with the Sound Off serving as your album title, what was the last movie you watched with the sound off?
The last one would probably be Turtle’s: The Incredible Journey. That’s the last movie I watched with the sound off. That’s the movie I like to listen to the album and watch the best.
Psh, that would be awesome, you know? That’s the goal — to be a real producer. I’m taking my time. I’m perfecting my craft. But, yeah, you know I don’t see why not.
You definitely proved that you’re still a threat independently by selling over 100,000 records your first week. How long can you maintain that level of success without the backing of a major label?
As long as possible, you know? I’m not sure exactly. Who knows? It could happen. But I know I’m feeling good with my situation right now. There’s no reason to change it.
After Kendrick Lamar’s verse on “Control,” you said you would come out with the “wildest adjective bars.” What are some the wildest adjective bars you’ve come up with so far?
I was just cutting up. (Laughs) I don’t have any adjective bars yet. I wanted to say something in terms of [being] stupid because everyone was taking it so seriously. Like, I don’t know, me, personally, I thought it was whatever. I didn’t feel dissed or anything.
Do you feel that verse elevated the level of competition in hip-hop?
Yeah. I mean, I guess that’s how people look at it now. For me, if you weren’t rapping before the “Control” verse, like why [now]? You know what I’m saying? That’s corny to me. Kendrick is going to put out a verse and then everyone is going to start rapping now? Like what were you doing before that?
Switching gears, you’ve collaborated with Maroon 5 and Ariana Grande in the past. How does your writing process differ when you approach a pop collaboration in contrast to a rap record?
Well, on a pop song when you spit a verse on it you just want it to be catchy and make it something everyone could sing along to. I’m not going to go on a Maroon 5 record and start spitting. It’s a kind of a different process — like songwriting.
If you had the opportunity to collaborate with ‘N Sync, Britney Spears, or the Backstreet Boys – all in their primes – who would you choose and why?
Britney Spears would be crazy. It would be wild to see what I can do. But, I’m not going to front and act like ‘N Sync didn’t just have one of the greatest MTV VMA Award performances ever. I’m going to say Britney Spears, because I think the song would actually come out tight.
You’re also an avid Steelers fan. Which era were you more of a fan of? Was it “The Kordell Stewart” era, “The Tommy Maddox” era, or the “Big Ben” era?
Ben Roethlisberger. I’m with that 100 percent. Ben is the man dude. It’s rough this year, but we had a lot of very good years.
How tough was it to see one of your favorite players Jerome Bettis walk away from the game in 2006?
People get old and they retire. Like, it was rough and he was an incredible part of the team. It was bittersweet. You know it was good to see him walk off being the legend that he is, but rough to see him walk away from the team.
It’s hard to see any legends walk away from their craft, athletes and musicians alike. But 2013 has been a great year for music. Besides your own album, name three of your favorites that came out this past year.
Earl Sweatshirt’s Doris, Schoolboy Q’s album is going to be the best album, and The Internet’s album Purple Naked Ladies. Yeah, I think I’m going to go with those people. Oh yeah and Yeezus! Of course, Yeezus!
You’ve had the opportunity to tour all over the world. Do you have a place in particular that you can’t get enough of that you love to travel to?
The best shows are in Pittsburgh, obviously, but St. Louis goes pretty hard. St. Louis is always really good. Their crowds are awesome.
Dating back to a previous mixtape you had entitled Best Day Ever, can you pinpoint the best day ever in the life of Mac Miller thus far?
When the album went number one that was pretty awesome. I think the best day so far would be releasing this album.
Why is that?
I think it was just a good step for me. You know it was just nice to put out the album after sitting on it for so long.
Anything else you want to say to your fans out there?
2014 is going to be an awesome year.