The 19-year-old rapper Mac Miller rolls into the parking lot of Philadelphia’s Electric Factory in the kind of tour bus you’d expect from someone with a major record deal. But Miller is signed to independent label Rostrum Records, from his hometown of Pittsburgh, and his songs -- infectious grooves about smoking weed and dreaming of the big time -- aren’t played regularly on the radio.
His debut album, “Blue Slide Park,” doesn’t come out until November 8, and he has so far given away his mixtapes for free. Yet Miller’s videos (16 in all) have generated more than 152 million views on YouTube.
“A year ago, we were in a Volvo station wagon, and now we’re in two buses.”
“We don’t have the ability to pick a single and hit the radio, and be like, ‘We need this spun all the time. This is the top 40.’ We can’t do that,” he says. “What we do is put out videos before the [mixtapes] ship, because that’s how most people hear a song.”
The YouTube success has all happened in a relatively short time. “A year ago, we were in a Volvo station wagon, and now we’re in two buses,” says Miller, who is wearing a plain white t-shirt and baggy gray sweatpants.
He explains that the first bus was used during a recent European tour, in which he sold out shows in London, Paris, Munich, and Amsterdam. “It’s nuts, dude,” he says. “You’re like, ‘When did this happen?’”
Check out the December issue of Red Bulletin magazine (on newsstands November 15) for more of the article. To read the magazine on your iPad, download the Red Bulletin iPad app.