Mac Miller first catapulted onto the scene in a huge way with his 2011 album Blue Slide Park. Its success marked the first time in 20 years an independently distributed album topped the charts; now, the rapper known for being indie is suddenly not. After signing with Warner Bros Records, Miller has been preparing for the release of GO:OD AM, the first major label effort of his career that follows a dark period of his life that included bouts with depression and drugs.
Here, the Pittsburgh native talks about this latest phase in his career, his struggles with addiction, and that time that Donald Trump insulted him on Twitter.
You’re in the midst of releasing your first major label album. This is a big deal! How does this launch compares to your previous indie launches?
Well, we have a bigger marketing budget. Yesterday at the Pirates game everyone in one section was holding up Mac Miller heads, and then I came on the Jumbotron. It hasn’t felt different, just bigger. It's dope because I was thinking that if I’m on a label major label now everything’s going to be globally focused, but the cool thing about this is everything is focused in Pittsburgh — which is awesome. It’s dope that something important to me like that is also important to the label.
It sounds like you made the right choice aligning with Warner. Why them? Had they been wooing you for awhile?
I actually hadn’t spoken to major labels at all until after I left Rostrum Records. Once I started meeting with everyone, Warner seemed like the best and smoothest transition. They’re going to let me do me and not focus on how they can change it. Instead, it’s about how they can elevate it. Technically speaking, the first album I did sold well and it’s the worry about having a label that wants me to do more stuff like that album than what I want to do. That was a big thing, and there were some labels that were like, “We need to get back to a certain point.” And I said, “No, we’re on a different type of journey.”
You’re pretty honest about how you used to be in a dark place with depression and drugs. Is it tough being open about those aspects of your life?
It’s definitely rough, but there’s the fact I was so honest and open about it in my music already, so it’s only right to speak on the turning point. But sometimes it does get hard. I want people to realize where I’m at, but it gets rough when a lot of the spotlight ends up being on just that. But, it’s choice and consequence. I made those decisions and I have to live with them. Plus it’s important to speak about it, so kids can learn from my mistakes.
What’s the significance of the colon in GO:OD?
It ended up actually happening because it just looks like the time. It looks like a digital clock. But there’s some different meanings in there to break up the word, but I’ll leave that to the listener to figure out what those are.
Is it fair to say that the theme of the album is an awakening?
Yeah, it’s like waking up from a really long dream. I think it’s just been the shift in my life. I wanted it to feel like square one, and the morning is the first part of your day. That’s why we centered around it.
I wanted to shift gears a little bit and ask you about your run-ins with none other than Donald Trump. Not many people can say that they’ve been personally insulted by Trump, but you can. I think that’s probably a compliment.
Yeah, it’s an accomplishment.
So what happened there?
I made a song called "Donald Trump" before he had political aspirations, and it was an idea about how everything Trump owns has to say TRUMP on it. And then as his political aspirations came to light, I wanted to make it clear that I’m not in support of him. I’m not voting for him or anything like that, so he took offense to that and went on Twitter and ruined my life. (Laughs)
What did he say to you?
It was comical. All fun and games.
Ed. Note: Here are Trump’s tweets:
I know he’s been having trouble getting artists to agree to have him play their songs at Trump rallies. I mean, he should probably choose “Donald Trump” as his new song. Why not?
As much as I’d like to see that happen from an entertainment perspective, I just don’t want to be the guy who’s hyping people up to vote for him. I would love for him to win the Republican nomination, just so this can go on longer. But I don’t know if i can handle him as our President.
What artists have you been into lately?
I need to start listening to some new people, but I’ve been into Drake, Kendrick, and everyone from TDE, Odd Future and Brainfeeder. I like Michael Christmas a lot, he’s touring with me and is on the come up. And I have an artist named Choo Jackson who just dropped a project called Broken Hearts Make Money which is really dope.
I wanted to ask you about the night you spent a night in jail for possession of marijuana back in 2011. Now, a mere four years later, what do you think about marijuana becoming more legally accepted?
It’s such a stupid charge to be in jail for. It’s weed. It’s weird to me how much worse shit is out here and the fact that alcohol is legal, and I’ve made way more decisions thanks to alcohol rather than weed. I think alcohol has been by tradition, our country’s — or maybe even the world’s way — to cope. It’s the classic American story, you come home from work and pour yourself a drink to deal with the the day. It’s more accepted, but weed is starting to make its way there. I don’t know. They have to figure out how to make money off it first before they make it legal.
Photos by Brick Stowell