NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mac Miller had a quick decision to make when Kanye West jumped the street date for his new album: Move his “Watching Movies with the Sound Off” to a different week, or stand firm in the face of “Yeezus.”
In the end, it was a simple decision. The album was too good to wait.
“I initially just wanted my own space for my album to drop and then Kanye's date came out and it was kind of like, 'OK, that's probably the worst person to go up against to drop an album,'” Miller said. “But I'm one of those weird everything-happens-for-a-reason type people, so I felt that maybe there's a reason I was dropping the same day as Kanye, and I think there was. I think it let people know that I have a long career ahead of me, and I wasn't just anything that people put me as before.”
Miller entered the Billboard 200 at No. 3 behind West and J. Cole, and much of the discussion that week revolved around Miller as interloper. How did Miller find his way into the top three on the biggest rap release week of the year? And just how many sales did he take from West?
“It's dope,” Miller said of the attention while eating curry backstage before a recent show at Marathon Music Works in Nashville. Miller sold more than 101,000 copies of the woozy, moody “Movies,” which features appearances or production work from Diplo, Flying Lotus, Earl Sweatshirt, Jay Electronica, Action Bronson, Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul.
It's a redefining moment for the 21-year-old Miller. Cast as the goofy sidekick of Wiz Khalifa and known for his novelty song-turned-celebrity beef with Donald Trump, the quality of Miller's second album is making detractors re-examine his music.
Pitchfork called it “a quantum leap in artistry,” and it's gotten solid reviews all around. He even outscores Cole on Metacritic with a 75 average to Cole's 72.
Miller alludes to his public perception on the album in a skit at the end of “Red Dot Music.” He allows battle rapper Loaded Lux to go off on him for 90 seconds. Lux begins with “You was Cheesy Mac with the easy raps ...,” and it goes downhill from there.
“It kind of shows you that stuff like that doesn't matter,” Miller said. “He ethered me on my own album, but the album still plays.”
Miller says the album's depth and quality reflects two years of warp-speed development, his move from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles, and just how serious he is about the craft.
“There was always a lot more to me than what people wanted to say, that's the only thing that ever bothered me,” Miller said. “But I was also 19. You don't get the fact that everyone's not going to understand who you are at that point. You don't understand who you are at that point. Two years, I feel like I grew 20 years in two years.”