Mac Miller discovered his affinity for rapping after freestyling over a beat during a smoke session with friends at just 14 years old.
Pittsburgh-based label Rostrum Records picked up Miller that same year, while his third mixtape K. Through fervent promotion on social media, aided in part by his association with Wiz Khalifa under the label, he was recognized by XXL as part of their annual Freshman Class in The song peaked at number 75 on the Billboard Hot chart and later became a certified platinum record. Then, Blue Slide Park was released. Before the project was released, Mac dropped another mixtape and featured on multiple songs.
This was the childhood neighborhood of Travon Smart, better known as Jimmy Wopo, a rising trap music star whose hit song "Elm Street" has been streamed over 8 million times on Spotify. Mac left Pittsburgh when his music career took off, opting for the sunnier weather of Los Angeles over the dreary Pittsburgh skies the city sees only about sunny days per year, though, as a resident, this number feels shockingly high.
Smart opted to stay in Pittsburgh as his music began to explode, enjoying the fame that came with being a local legend. In , within three months of one other, both were dead. Smart—who wanted to use his rap career to leave gang life behind —was shot to death in a drive-by shooting In the Hill District. Mac—who had fled Los Angeles for New York partly to get away from the culture that had aided his slide into substance abuse —passed from an overdose shortly after returning to LA.
At the start of the year, Pittsburgh had claim to one of the most revered and respected artists in the world of hip-hop, as well as one of its brightest rising stars.
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Before the leaves had turned, the city had lost Mac and Wopo. Pittsburgh's budding hip-hop community was left wounded and wondering how, if at all, it could recover. Welch isn't especially tall, but he stands out, with a squat, athletic build from his days as a long jumper and triple jumper at Duquesne University and flowing dreadlocks that frame a round jaw and radiant smile. He has a show tonight at Cattivo, a Lawrenceville staple that has been home to artists from marginalized communities for over 20 years, including hosting some of the best drag shows in the city.
Ian started rapping a couple of years ago, under the name Sir Courtesy, then switched up his style and became Benji. Smile, You're Alive! In addition to write-ups in local media like City Paper and WYEP , he's one of the few rappers here who can command a crowd on his own, without having to be part of a larger billing. Before the tragic loss of Wopo and Mac, Benji. Artists were collaborating and supporting each other, no longer burdened by the pressure of being "next up," since there were already titans putting on for Pittsburgh.
The last year has changed things. Once the hierarchy of the scene was disrupted, Benji. It's a fairly simple matter of marketing: With more Pittsburgh rappers making names, the scene would attract more attention, along with that attention came increased opportunities for local artists, including introductions within the industry, opening slots on tour, and features on songs.
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As a result, Benji. And, like, everyone knew that but didn't really speak on it. Now, he said, the talent is still here, but it's aimless. When the city razed housing in the Hill for the Civic Arena, many of the predominantly Black families that were displaced moved to Homewood , a shift that, along with increased white flight from the neighborhood, caused an increase in the Black population from 22 percent in to over 60 percent by In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh riots , the housing and businesses in the neighborhood were ravaged.
Now, roughly 25 percent of residents in the neighborhood live below the poverty line, and Homewood South has the highest homicide rate in Allegheny County. But Smile, You're Alive! Three days before his best friend committed suicide, a paternity test revealed that the child he was expecting with his girlfriend wasn't his.
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A mission statement of sorts for the album, opener "Rain Down" sees him processing his heartbreak, devastation, and continued search for the beauty of existence through upbeat, poppy instrumentals and a voice that at times oscillates between pitches within the same syllable. This mentality is rare in Pittsburgh rap, where most of the music is bleak—albeit presented with the signature gallows humor of a depleted Rust Belt city.
Even outside of the trap scene, poppier artists like Mars Jackson are no stranger to this feeling of anxiety. When he'd reached bottom in his personal life after the paternity news and his friend's death, he said he found himself on the 10th Street Bridge in Pittsburgh's South Side neighborhood, contemplating an end to his pain. Now, he gets to thrive and pass his energy on to others. You lose friends here, especially being Black. D is due to drop his sophomore album, DiCaprio 2, later this month through Dreamville Records. Moe View Profile The type beat producers on YouTube who have succeeded as channels make more than enough money to survive without jobs.
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Mixtape Maturation: The Many Faces of Mac Miller
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13 Essential Mac Miller Songs
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E. Dan Reflects on His Relationship with Mac Miller
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