At just 19-years-old, Mac Miller released his debut studio album Blue Slide Park. A teen party record, it was met with vicious criticism. Pitchfork Media gave it a 1 out of 10, writing,
“Unless you buy into Miller’s persona – and why would you? – Blue Slide Park offers you nothing.”
Fast forward two years and the same magazine publishes an article called Mac Miller is Cool Now, praising the rapper as a leader in indie-leaning West Coast hip hop. All because he hit the reset button on his career.
Realizing party rap is great for publicity but unsatisfying artistically, Miller lived reclusively for months following Blue Slide Park, reinventing his music and image. This included learning how to create beats and produce songs, putting out a jazz record, a concept album under the moniker Delusional Thomas and finally, his introspective album Watching Movies with the Sound Off.
“It was actually very entertaining for me, to watch all these people who either didn’t cover me before or talked shit, these people who shoved me out pay attention when all of a sudden I released something with Flying Lotus. It was entertaining to see people make that shift.
The first post with the Flying Lotus shit got this begrudging, “Fuck, it’s Mac Miller. It’s good. Fuck. I’m pissed I’m saying Mac Miller’s shit is good.”
Then the Ab-Soul shit came out, people were like, “Fuck, this is good too.” Then the video comes out and it’s like, “Fuck.” You know what I’m saying? You see people shift from being uncomfortable saying Mac Miller’s cool to it becoming like, “Oh, okay, that’s just what he does now.”
It’s difficult to hit reset – feeling like you’re throwing away everything you’ve worked for and starting back at square one is scary. But as Miller shows, the payoff can be huge. It’s time to stop worrying about how you’ve been labeled and take yourself in another direction towards fulfillment.
Read more about Miller reinventing his image in this interview with Noisey.