“Ain’t nothing but a brand name.”
The hook on Mac Miller’s latest single, “Brand Name,” perfectly sums up the Pittsburgh rapper’s toughest career obstacle: To the average hip-hop fan, Mac Miller wasn’t a skilled rapper/producer/artist — he was a burnt-out frat rapper trying to stay relevant with his Jackass wannabe show on MTV. Fast forward to the release of his third studio release, GO:OD AM. The days of battling the “post-high school troublemaker” image are just about over.
In a five-year span, Mac Miller has been able to shake that image and craft his own lane. But that path was far from linear, navigating through some classic mixtapes, album flops, addiction, depression, and everything in between. He’s emerged with his own style. In his early mixtape days, Mac’s style was the equivalent of a rap starter pack for kids; sugary instrumentals behind bars that rarely went beyond the “who you know that’s iller than Mac Miller” message. On tracks like “Nikes on my Feet” and “The Spins,” Mac had an uncanny ability to connect with his niche audience of college-age party-goers. He captured the essence of the party, the hangover, and everything in between like no other backpack rapper could. This isn’t exactly high-brow music, but Mac had real musical talent – a keen ear for beats, a strong enough flow and a relatable presence on the mic.