Shows how D.I.Y is the best way to do it
Clash Magazine - Mac Miller

It goes without saying that the independent route into the industry is probably about as liberating as it gets for a rapper. Sometimes allying with the majors for a hip-hop artist can be likened to that final scene in 1969’s classic caper, The Italian Job, albeit without the Mini Coopers and a dapper mobster like Michael Caine. It’s that part where the back of the bus teeters over the edge of the cliff leaving the crooks salivating over whether to save the gold or their lives. Same applies. A lot of the time, there’s a choice between chasing the coinage and retaining a respectable sound. Dreams of effectively juggling both rarely materialise.

Pittsburgh’s latest rhyming export Mac Miller, aka Malcolm McCormick, gets both luxuries by taking the D.I.Y path and funnily enough he also knows a thing or two about movie references. As we sit in his mildly furnished hotel suite shrouded by the light of a tepid Manhattan afternoon, Mac excitedly links a love of movies to the title of his first mixtape, ‘K.I.D.S’.

“Hell yeah. As a kid I used to watch movies and the first thing I used to do when it was over was to act out and play-pretend I was my favourite actor and continue his life,” he reveals. “That’s always been my problem with movies because when they end I’m so pissed. Still to this day I’m like what the fuck happens next. Spiderman saves people lives and then afterwards he’s just chilling with Mary Jane and the movie’s over. Well, what’s gonna happen in their relationship?”

It’s a statement that noticeably conjures an air of deep reflection within the room for just a few seconds, but it’s enough to inform me that this guy has thought a lot about the seemingly ineffectual.

Now at 20, and in this uncombed hotel room littered with covetable streetwear outfits, it’s clear that the unfledged frolics of just three years are chafing on a youngster with just two hours sleep to his name today. Forcibly lighting up a cigarette, he admits: “I came into the game and started doing things from 17 or 18 years old and to me, everything was exciting. I’m just so happy about everything but I think the thing what’s changed is that I’ve been doing it for a little while now and grown a little bit and everything being exciting is over.” He goes on: “Don’t get me wrong, I still get a high just from performing and love making music but I feel like its just when you do this stuff constantly throughout the years. I haven’t had a real bit of time off since I came out.”

The statement doesn’t emit a sniff of sorrow but it instead highlights the sacrifices that have had to be made. After all, who would regret being personally hailed by none other than Donald Trump after referencing him in your lyrics? Or grieve over YouTube figures that resemble early arithmetic from primary school and genuinely take a while to count the commas. Last time Clash checked, the number of views was at 318,998,194. Then there are the followers on Twitter that read out at a high and mighty 2,302,053. What must his mentions on there look like? “The weirdest thing about Twitter is that those are real people. I have trouble believing that the people that hit me on Twitter exist. In my life I feel like it’s the Truman Show and that everyone is a part of my life because it’s my life but that’s cool.”

Now with album ‘Blue Slide Park’ out, and chronicling more suburban tedium, Miller has also turned to pleasing the masses. Tracks like ‘Up All Night’ implement a tinge of pop while still being sprinkled with the youthful braces of debauchery. “Before it was all about making music to forget about your problems and I always said before I made music, my philosophy is to make happy music because people like my music and aren’t gonna want to deal with their problems.”

Even still, he refuses to rest on his laurels despite an increasing amount of nights with little to no sleep. Next comes work with two hip-hop behemoths in Pharrell and DJ Jazzy Jeff on ’Pink Slime’, and an unnamed project respectively.

As the interview draws to a close and Mac steps on to the balcony with the photographer, it’s cool to see that he still enjoys shoots. After all, his drudgery has paid off and the benefits are undoubtedly plentiful. Even for somebody who hasn’t had a good nights sleep, doing it all by himself probably couldn’t feel much better.

The full version of this interview appears in the August 2012 issue of Clash Magazine.

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Words By Errol Anderson
Photo by Michael Haumpton

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