Mac Miller has a smart new album, “GO:OD AM,” a new label deal (worth a reported $10 million) and a tour hitting the East Coast this weekend. When he says, “There’s nothing wrong with fun,” the 23-year-old knows what he’s talking about, especially considering that this time last year, “fun was kind of rare.”
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The rapper, whose goofy track “Donald Trump” caused the Republican presidential candidate to call him a “dog” on Twitter, debuted in 2011 with the breezy, frat-boyish “Blue Slide Park.” Miller’s nasal voice and boyish concerns made him into a sillier Eminem from the start.
“The old days were cool,” says Miller, reminiscing about his hometown of Pittsburgh and his early work. “I was never that far from the comforts of home. Then again, you never want to be too comfortable.”
Shutting out reality
But by the time Miller dropped his moodily atmospheric second album, 2013’s “Watching Movies With the Sound Off,” and 2014’s dour mixtape “Faces,” things got serious and sad for the rapper: He was addicted to promethazine and codeine, with depression and cocaine use following. “‘Watching Movies’ wasn’t stuck in one emotion but was varied — very trippy and cerebral, a mix of party music and serious stuff I was going through,” Miller says. “There were a lot of internal questions I had to answer.” He answered them with “shutting out reality,” staying depressed and staying high.
“It was killing me, so I got out of it all,” says Miller about shifting gears from lots of drugs to no drugs. “I stopped being in denial about how bad it was, stopped thinking about what could be, and manned up. I trusted my gut and got better.”
Making a much needed change
He decided that being around more people — as opposed to the isolation and insularity of Los Angeles, where he was living at that point — was a key to getting healthy, so he moved to Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood this year. “I loved the West Coast, but Brooklyn’s better. You can’t hide,” he says.
Recording “GO:OD AM” was an act of joy rather than drudgery. As usual, Miller’s new album is without many guests — “It has to be organic. Why spend the money otherwise?” — and refuses to force square pegs into round holes. He does still stay in touch with his one-time duet partner Ariana Grande, with whom he recorded “The Way” in 2013. “We’re part of two different genres, but I’d love to figure out something with her,” Miller says.
As for Trump, the subject of another of Miller’s past singles, he doesn’t care much for The Donald. “It’s worrisome. I think [Trump’s supporters] have a lot of growing to do. You can’t be ignorant to reality.”
Miller’s reality is looking up. “The state of mind I was in when I made ‘GO:OD AM’ was definitely better, cheerier,” he says. “My life had changed across the board, and I wanted to reflect the light at the end of the tunnel. You grow, and you get more confident. It’s great to have fun again.”
If you go:
Saturday, 8 p.m.
The Fillmore Philadelphia
29 E. Allen St.
New York City
Dec. 16, 7 p.m.
610 W 56th St., 212-582-6600
Dec. 18, 6 p.m.
House of Blues Boston
15 Lansdowne St, Boston