Chasing the dream: Mac Miller’s rise in hip hop

By Aaron Stroude

Music has changed a lot in the past decade.  And unfortunately, in a lot of cases, the change has not been for the better.  I think the Internet, piracy and iTunes may be partially to blame.  When we were kids, artists seem to focus on “poppy” Justin Bieber/Katy Perry-like lyrics in order to create something that gets on the radio or sells millions of singles on iTunes.  Pop radio often lacks depth that I look for in music, and since getting into college, I have really started to veer away from most things on the radio, which is where hip hop started to come in, a genre I historically would shy away from.

The thing that really started to draw me towards hip hop, besides a lot of friends, was in a lot of cases, artists of the genre really seemed to create songs they felt were important to them.  Most rappers release mixtapes, and most typically these tapes are free, non-radio music and independently recorded, which gives the artists a lot of elbow room to create music that really expresses things they feel without the pressure to create profitable music for a record company.  And as I started to listen to more and more, a friend of mine introduced me to Mac Miller’s “KIDS” mixtape.

Right away, I was really drawn to his sound. Much of the time, his sound stems from old school styles, so in terms of rappers today, he is incredibly unique.

Soon after I was introduced to him, he released his mixtape “Best Day Ever”, and things really started to blow up for him thanks his song “Donald Trump”.

Unfortunately his “party” lyrics and style started to draw some criticism.  It isn’t often that white males gain a lot of popularity in the rap and hip hop listening community, and some of the criticism thrown at him was related to this, which is terribly unfortunate.  How a person looks shouldn’t determine whether or not someone belongs in any situation.

But Mac continued, and released his independent studio album “Blue Slide Park” and he became the first artist in over a decade to have a number one independent album on the Billboard charts, a major accomplishment for any artist, and a huge inspiration for independent artists everywhere.

As some criticism still trickled in, Mac decided to address these critics in his next mixtape, “Macadelic”.  And address them he did.  “Macadelic” was a far cry from anything he had recorded before, with a depth that I haven’t heard in music since Eminem’s autobiographical “Recovery”.  Heavy hitters in the hip hop community were featured on the new mixtape, giving Mac even more credibility.  When the likes of Lil Wayne, Juicy J, and up-and-comer Kendrick Lamar have your back, “critics” should take heed: the real community gives their support and sees his true potential, so what you think doesn’t matter.

Riding high on his recent success and incredibly busy year (2 major mixtapes and an album), Mac is currently on his Macadelic tour, and gearing up for the Under the Influence of Music Tour with good friend and fellow Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa.  Look for him this summer in a city near you, and keep those thumbs in the air!

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