Any musician who wants to sell 100,000 copies of a debut album in its first week should look to the career of Mac Miller for a guide. Especially if they’re awful at making music.
Hits Daily Double profiled Miller’s path to ubiquity, chalking it up largely to the success of his social networking architecture — about 2.6 million Facebook and Twitter followers combined — and 180 million views on YouTube.
What seems to have done the trick for Miller, a white kid from Pittsburgh, was taking it slow. The road to first album “Blue Slide Park,” released by Rostrum Records, included six mixtapes and an EP. Tracks “Frick Park Market” and “Donald Trump” charted on the Billboard 100 at #60 and #79, respectively, with a combined 45 million YouTube plays.
The most remarkable thing about Miller is that he has succeeded in a relative vacuum.
Basically the flag-bearing leader of what’s known as frat rap, Miller has received virtually no co-signs from other established artists, features no other rappers on his debut album and, other than a pair of beats from swag-hop mercenary Clams Casino, has received no high-profile production.
Aside from the far superior but still dreadful Asher Roth, no frat-rapper has neared the success Miller’s having. And released today, “Blue Slide Park” should be monetary proof of the influence a social media personality can grant an artist, particularly when he or she has adopted the persona of an outsider.
The most remarkable thing about all of this? Miller’s a terrible rapper. Saddled with a flat, childish voice, Miller spends most of his album overenunciating bankrupt lyrics about a) how cool he is, b) how much he likes to smoke weed/drink alcohol, and c) how cool he is because of the weed he smokes/alcohol he drinks.
These topics are hardly untrodden territory for hip-hop, but talented rappers raise them up with clever wordplay (Curren$y), slick magnetism (ASAP Rocky) or sheer energy (Waka Flocka Flame). Miller just kind of yelps his way through “Blue Slide Park,” awkwardly sticking lyrics at random across hamhanded production.
And any comparisons to Eminem, like the one floated by that Hits profile? Purely skin colour. Other than the basic caveat that Eminem is good and Miller is not, their cadences, subject matter and overall aesthetics couldn’t be farther apart.
Today’s casual listeners look for more than just music in their music. They want characters they can buy into, and Mac Miller has given them one in spades.
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