Mac Miller will be the first to tell you that his MTV2 reality show “Mac Miller and The Most Dope Family” reflects a kind of hyperreality.
Sure, it was him goofing around with his entourage and touring Europe with Lil Wayne, but under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t find him climbing into a shark cage, flying around on a dune buggy or engaging in other “Fear Factor”-type stunts. After all, he's a serious-minded hip-hop artist, not a member of “Jackass.”
“You know, I’ve kind of been living in this stay inside of a room and work [mode],” the 22-year-old rapper says in a phone interview from LA, “and I’ve just kind of lived inside of creation and just making music and experimental music. This show was one of the only things I left the room to do.”
The Point Breeze native said he made a rather feeble pitch for the show about being holed up in the studio. “I tried to convince them: What if we just make the show just me ... and they were like ‘No.’ ”
So, “Most Dope Family” has him about “150 million percent” more adventurous than his normal self.
Of special interest to Pittsburghers is the second episode of season two (11:30 tonight) in which he stages a homecoming at his old school and receives the key to the city from Pittsburgh City Council.
What do you do with a key to the city?
“Whenever I’m in Pittsburgh,” he says, “I keep it in my backseat, so if anyone pulls me over, I just show them the key.”
More seriously, he says, “We did the ceremony at Allderdice. We were going to do it at PNC Park, but we couldn’t get that done. It ended up being better because it was much more personal. It was an amazing moment to see the city supports and loves me.
“Pittsburgh,” he adds, “is probably the only place I feel comfortable just walking around.”
Miller, of course, is an international star who began releasing music when he was 15 and created a grass-roots following with such playful early singles as “Nikes on My Feet” and “Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza.” He topped the Billboard charts in 2011 with the album “Blue Slide Park” and followed that last year with the more acclaimed “Watching Movies With the Sound Off,” taking a deeper introspective and experimental approach, without the catchy singles like “Donald Trump” and “Party on Fifth Ave.” Between albums, he's constantly working on side projects, some released under his pseudonym Larry Fisherman, and mixtapes, including the sprawling new 24-track, nearly 90-minute “Faces,” which has been drawing rave reviews. (“The kid’s turning out the best work of his career,” Pitchfork said.)
“In my world of creation,” he says, “so many things are being experimented on, some many types of music. Before I make that next album, I just have to make a little more sense of that world. ['Faces'] is just where I'm at, so it's really long, there's a lot of music in there, but I want people to have time to process it. I've never given people time to process music. I always get antsy and put something out quickly. An album is coming, but I still believe in free music."
Early this year, he announced that he'd parted ways with Pittsburgh-based Rostrum Records for the next album, which, at the moment, is more or less in a bunch of different pieces. Whether he returns with a more poppy approach than "Watching Movies" remains to be seen.
"We'll see. The album is going to come together as it will. If you sat down and listened to all the things that are going on, there's a million different directions, so it's trying to fine-tune that, and pick that statement. I want the next album to be important, but I want ‘Faces’ to be important, too, so we have videos coming. All the Pittsburgh homies are out here doing that.”
The past few years, he’s made summer appearances in Pittsburgh other than just hanging out — playing Stage AE and CMU — but nothing has been announced as of yet.
“There’s going to be something in Pittsburgh that’s going to be coming up,” he says. “I don’t have much information on it yet, but before I go on tour again, I want to do something special in Pittsburgh.”