All grown up: Mac Miller proves himself on latest album and tour

Bonnaroo
Rapper Mac Miller performs during the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., Sunday, June 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Not a fan of Mac Miller? You may want to reconsider. The 21-year-old Pittsburgh rapper’s second studio album, Watching Movies With The Sound Off, may surprise you.

Since his entrance into the rap game as a tender teenager, Mac has been faced with two glaring disadvantages: he’s white and he’s young. Lately, hip hop stereotypes have seemed to melt away each year revealing a more accepting community of musicians. The genre is now a multifaceted musical society that's welcoming to pretty much everyone.

Despite the odds, Watching Movies is Mac Miller’s leap into serious artist territory. Comparing his debut 2011 studio album Blue Slide Park­–laced with party anthems–to Movies is like comparing a tomato to a potato. Their textures, tastes and appeal are different from the other. Movies is a trippy, dark journey into Miller’s inner thoughts of love, loss and life. Among many of his hardships, he ended a serious four-year-relationship in 2012 with a Temple University student and dealt with a long-time addiction to promethazine, until he decided to quit for the sake of his MTV show, Mac Miller And The Most Dope Family.

“I got older. I mean [for] the first album I was nineteen and everything was just so exciting. It was like [me] enjoying the fairy tale of becoming successful in the music industry,” Miller told us. “[For] this album, [I] kind of wanted to dig a little deeper." Old Mac fans might take some time to warm up to his matured sound, but it’s a style that is longer lasting and establishes his place in the hip hop world.

When asked about his favorite songs on the record, it was almost expected that he would choose the more energetic selections like the Diplo-produced “Goosebumpz”– one the first songs conceived for the album–or “O.K.”–a song that buddy Tyler the Creator lends his goofball flavor to. For Mac, though, it really came down to the tracks that most reflected his lurid new sound. He prefers numbers like “Remember”, “Aquarium”–written by Philly-native Ritz Reynolds–and “Avian” that lie on the darker end of the spectrum; which is what most of Movies is like. "I was playing Tyler [the Creator] the album and he was kinda like, 'Dude, this album is really depressing,'" and it sparked the dynamic duo’s kinetic collab. But, it doesn’t speak for or really fit into the album’s overall vibe.

Miller doesn’t just prove his musical abilities on his hip hop albums; he’s also not half bad at slapping down some laid-back jazz-style beats. Under the pseudonym Larry Lovestein he solo produced the You EP that climbed to the #1 spot on the iTunes jazz charts in 2012. He goes by many other Larry personas, giving him fresh musical outlets whenever he feels like it. "[For] me personally, I just like kind of being a Walt Disney type of person–creating characters and creating a journey," says Mac. You can even hear a little bit of Larry's influence on Movies.

In support of the album, Mac has launched the Space Migration Tour–a show that is bringing young up and comers–and close friends–Chance the Rapper, Vince Staples, The Internet and Philly-based rapper Meek Mill. "I think [that] like the whole idea of everything [on this tour] is [to] kind of bring people into it [from an] alternative world. I think it's kind of [like] the Space Migration [tour] is [a place] where we're migrating people into a different universe and [a] different place. We're kind of trying to take people of out reality," Mac said of the tour.

Mac Miller brings his Space Migration Tour to Philadelphia’s Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing this Saturday, July 13. Watching Movies With the Sound Off is now available on iTunes, Spotify and worldwide.

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Information and tickets for this Saturday’s show can be found here.

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