As he prepares to hit the UK this autumn, Mac Miller challenges SB.TV’s Editor In Chief, Lily Mercer, to a drinking and smoking competition. Read on to find out about teaming up with Drake for a Hanukkah song, his friendship with Wiz Khalifa and his reaction to being a XXL Freshman…
You’re on tour currently, where are you right now?
I am in Florida.
Are you enjoying the sunshine?
I’m in the hotel room right now but I will be enjoying the sunshine shortly.
You were chosen as one of the XXL Freshmen this year, how did you feel when you found out you’d been chosen?
I felt super geeked, really happy and excited to be picked. It’s something I always wanted. I believed in the fact that I could do it, but its still a great achievement.
Knock Knock is expected to be your first single in the UK, what made you chose it?
I think it’s a fun track that’s a cool clash between old school and new school because the sample is from the 1950s. I like playing around with it and making something for now. It represents me having fun while trying to break down the door and get in the game.
On K.I.D.S, you describe yourself as Justin Bieber meets Jadakiss, do you feel that description still fits you?
[Laughs] It was kinda just a line I was playing around with; I don’t know what people you would put together to make me. I think in some ways that makes sense, at that point I was a year younger but I feel that Justin Bieber has the mass appeal to do what he’s doing on a super star level and Jadakiss is someone that has bars and can spit. I feel that I have both of those things, which is where that line came from. Plus it shows that I’m goofy.
Your boy Wiz is in town next week, when can we expect you to reach the UK?
I think I’m coming in the fall, which I’m super excited about because my dream was always to have this take me overseas. But I think I’m coming in the fall so me and you will have to go out and party and see who can drink more.
I think I’ll win that. English girls are known for being good drinkers.
[Laughs] Well you might get me. I’ll do my best.
It can be a challenge. We should film it for SB.TV.
I think I might have just set myself up for disaster and public humiliation.
Possibly, I don’t wanna say yes, but it’s quite likely. We’ll see who wins in a smoking competition.
I think I might get you there.
Are you proud to see Wiz rising so high in the industry?
It makes me proud to be from Pittsburgh and seeing my homie doing so well. I can remember a long time ago when we were both on the scene in Pittsburgh, it’s great to see him killin’ it right now. Pittsburgh is getting so much attention and its awesome that people know where Pittsburgh is now. Before it was like, ‘I’m from Pittsburgh’, ‘Where’s Pittsburgh?’ Now people think its cool because the coolest people come from Pittsburgh.
Did you get to know each other through the Pittsburgh hip hop scene?
We would work in the same studios, he was working on his music and I was in the studio 24/7, so we kept on running into each other and just kicking it, smoking together chilling and the rest is history.
You both have a similar style of happy stoner rap, would you say hip hop is returning to a more positive place?
Definitely with the people I mess with, we’re all like hip hop hippies. I’m all about showing love and being positive, putting smiles on peoples faces and I think it’s like a lot of people are doing that and it’s good that people are putting out a more positive message through their music.
Pittsburgh isn’t exactly considered the home of rap, are you both paving the way for a new generation of rappers from your city?
I definitely think we’re bringing a shine to Pittsburgh for the rest of the world and a lot of people I know personally are a lot more hungry and driven now they see that they can make it out of the city with music. I think they’re really inspired to work harder.
You’re only 19, but you’ve been rapping for years, when did you start writing?
I’ve been writing music since I was 8 or 9 years old but I only started recording and taking everything really seriously when I was 15.
Do you think your age makes you slightly more relatable to your fan base?
Yeah, I hope so, I think the story of what I’m doing right now, a lot of people can gravitate towards it. I wanna make music that is relatable for all people and that it could almost be their life story as well. I want to make a soundtrack to a good time.
You sampled Nas and Pete Rock’s The World Is Yours on Nikes On My Feet and have voiced your support for DJ Premier. Do you feel it’s important to pay homage to legends in the game?
It’s definitely important for me because I came up listening to all those people. I appreciate what they’ve done for music, it’s an honour to meet some of them and even work with some of them. For me it’s important on a personal level because I’m such a big fan of all of them. As far as music, I think it’s always important to pay respect to those that came before you. It happens in sport too; if you’re Lebron James, you gotta pay respect to Michael Jordan.
You’ve been working with Jazzy Jeff recently. Can you tell us about it?
Me and Jeff are working on something for the summer, I’m not gonna put too much out there because we’re trying to keep it secret but we’re working on something.
What’s it been like working with him?
It’s been awesome, he’s just a real cool dude and we vibe on the same type of thing. It’s funny because he’s always surprised by my appreciation of hip hop from that era. It’s just been cool seeing his process and him seeing my process, it’s been fun.
Best Day Ever was a free-album or fralbum, when can we expect your debut non-fralbum?
I think in the fall, I’m pretty sure I’ll come out with an album. Since I’m doing everything independently, I have complete control of whenever I wanna drop something. But right now I feel the fall is the best time.
Do you enjoy being independent?
Hell yeah! It’s great, I love it. It’s fun to be in control of everything creatively and really building a foundation and having my hand in everything that goes on.
It’s quite rare you can get to the height that you’re at independently.
Yeah, I know, I’m blessed that we got to do that. I’m happy, I hope that we can achieve more success independently.
Would you sign to a major label?
There have definitely been major labels who have courted us, but right now I’m not ready for that step yet. I think that I wanna do more on an independent level and have potential to grow more as an artist independently, but I don’t think major labels are the bad guys. Maybe one day I’ll sign to a major but right now I’m happy as hell being independent. For now I’m gonna kick it with my fam, make nice music and see where it takes us.
What are your plans for the rest of 2011?
I’m gonna be working on my debut album, finishing my project with Jeff and more touring in the fall. A lot of good stuff, a lot of fun. I’m hoping that this summer’s going to be the best summer of my life. I’m not gonna be insanely busy, I’m gonna get to finally relax a little, just work on my album, travel and have some unplanned fun.
You’ll have to prepare yourself for the drinking and smoking competition obviously.
Oh yeah, I’ll be training every day.
As the biggest Jewish rappers, you once suggested that you and Drake team up for a Hanukkah song. Can we expect it this winter?
[Laughs] I don’t know. I know Drake knows of what I’m doing because I heard he told someone that I was killing it. I haven’t spoken with him, but if he’s down to do the Hanukkah song, I will do the Hanukkah song.
We will make sure Drake sees this; the world needs a Hanukkah song. Well thanks for your time Mac and we’ll see you in the autumn.
Yeah, I’m excited. And I’m actually not playing; I’m gonna train for the smoking and drinking competition.
You should, seriously. The challenge is on.
Interview by Lily Mercer