Pittsburgh-born Mac Miller has been a name-above-the-title rapper ever since his self-produced debut album “Blue Slide Park” and its debut single, “Donald Trump” in 2011. With those recordings, Miller showed the world his spare musical style and cutting, funny wit. Fast-forward to 2013’s sinister “Watching Movies with the Sound Off,” and 2015’s “GO:OD AM,” and the music got denser, more haunting as the lyrics grew darker and cold — perhaps reflecting Miller’s vices of the time. Now sober and clean, 2016 finds Miller with a richly melodic new album, “The Divine Feminine,” that revels in all things ladylike — like his highly publicized gal pal, Grammy nom Ariana Grande.
You have to be bored with this, but “Donald Trump” — that name was your first hit, your initial claim to fame. You guys got into a name-calling war and he threatened to sue. Blessing or curse?
It’s not either. I never aligned myself with him as a human being, or what his aspirations were. It was just a coincidence that his things took off even further around the time mine did. It’s crazy though that I had a real feud with the president of the United States. Thankfully I don’t perform the song any more.
You weren’t even talking directly about Trump, but rather how ultimate power and money corrupts. Are you freaked by his presidency?
He was just a symbol of what quote-unquote success is. And I’m not going anywhere. We as a people just need to pay better attention to all that goes on, to be active in things not going horribly. We have to play our part. With Obama it was cool because we just trusted him — he was looking out for our good. He shared our ideas. Not this guy, so we must be more aware. Be more loving and respectful to each other.
How does touring as a sober gentleman feel?
It’s so much better, you know what I mean? Before, I didn’t have days. I woke when I woke up. This interview wouldn’t have happened in daytime like it is now. It would’ve been after a show, if then. Now, I have an opportunity to be more normal, enjoy things. Finally, I’m finally having fun onstage; it’s less like work, more like life.
You are not shy about professing your love for Ariana Grande. Your Instagram is filled with l’amour. Yet, you two still manage to keep it private and avoid those pitfalls. Are you all about maintaining privacy?
Yes. It’s how you get a chance to live more. I don’t go out to clubs. If the word “event” is there, I’m usually not there. We do our own thing.
“The Divine Feminine” started life as a smaller project, an EP. How did it blossom into becoming the full-blooded album?
I think I was just enjoying the creative process so much, that it kept happening. I [was] figuring out what was inside of me regarding the topic of women — I just couldn’t wrap [that] up in five songs.
Did that have something to do with that fact that this new album had something your other albums did not – a frank discussion of genuine love and human touch?
Initially, the reason it was to be so short was that I was afraid that one topic – women, love – would get boring. Dig deeper though and it was really complex, spoken from different angles. It was a book that needed a lot of chapters with the same going for the music. Once I got over that self-imposed hump, it was freeing having one big concept to focus on. I didn’t have to have the "party"song or the "being sad"song.
How did you know your grandmother’s story and her appearance on the album would fit?
Hers was my favorite love story, the one I measured everything else against, the ideal I have been chasing. When I heard it in full I knew I wanted that recording for my life, but it also told me so much about love and relationships that it helped me creatively. It gave my story an ending; a destination.
This album, unlike so many albums within the hip hop milieu, does not wallow in machismo. Was that a hard thing to consider knowing how macho rap can be?
I just let it fly. The worse thing you can do in a creative environments is overthink, to put up a wall of perception when you’re worried about how you look – will I look soft? Will I look uncool? I just want to be honest and vulnerable. Am I nervous when I’m most vulnerable? Of course, but that’s what I have to do. It’s therapeutic to me. All the walls to whether something is cool or not have to drop. I have to create without any boundaries.
If you go:
Sun. Dec. 11, House Of Blues Boston, 15 Lansdowne St., Boston, $35.00-$49.50, www.houseofblues.com/boston
Mon. Dec 12, Terminal 5, 610 W. 56th St., New York,$35, www.terminal5nyc.com
Wed. Dec. 14, The Fillmore Philadelphia, 29 E. Allen St., Philadelphia, $35-$39, www.thefillmorephilly.com