Yes MTV - Jake Miller is about to blow up indeed.
"Music without a message is just sound," states 20-year-old rapper/singer/ songwriter Jake Miller. These are wise words for such a young artist. But, this isn't just another rapper spitting a clever turn of phrase; it's Jake Miller's creative credo.
"I don't feel like I have a duty, but I have all of these followers and fans and I feel like if you have the power to say something to change someone's life or the power to help someone, then you should do it. I spent my teen years trying to figure out who I am as an artist and what my musical goals and direction was and it's now clear that I want to be an artist that puts positivity into the world," says Jake, whose full-length debut CD, "Us Against Them," is out on November 5th.
That clarity of direction came after the overwhelming emotional response to his song "A Million Lives," which is about overcoming tough times and has more than 4 million views on YouTube. "'A Million Lives' not only changed my life because it launched my career, but it also changed me personally because of how it affected so many people. People would come up to me at meet-and-greets and cry and say I stopped them from hurting themselves or that the song changed them. I like that I can positively affect people. The biggest compliment is when they say that I'm the first rap artist they can listen to in their car with their parents. That means a lot to me. The song and the feedback really shaped who I am as an artist today," he says.
And, just who is he as an artist exactly? Well, he's a clean-cut kid from the family-oriented suburb of Weston, Florida who was raised on a healthy mix of pop, rap, and hip-hop music and "be good, do good, study hard, work hard, be nice to everybody" morals who makes, as he says, "pop music with hip-hop incorporated into it and meaning behind it." With three EPs - including Spring 2013's "The Road Less Traveled," which hit No. 1 on iTunes Hip-Hop Chart - one mix tape, 20 YouTube videos, and a rabid social media fan base, Jake is primed to live up to MTV's declaration that he is "about to blow up."
His new CD, "Us Against Them," is just the album to take him there. "'Us Against Them' is a little more fun, and not as emotionally heavy as some of my past records. But even if it's a lighter song about love or friends or loving life, which is what this album is about, there is still thought and meaning behind each song and a feeling that is more uplifting. This record is also more focused on spreading positivity and being inspirational and telling stories that are more real to me," says Jake, who cites Mac Miller, Macklemore, and Eminem as influences.
The 11-track album runs the gamut from moving love songs like the first single, the upbeat, house-influenced "Collide" and "Me and You" to feel-good songs brimming with confidence and a love for life like "Hollywood," "High Life," and "Heaven" to one of the most vulnerable songs Jake has ever penned, the stripped down acoustic "Homeless." "Us Against Them" also features the aforementioned "A Million Lives."
Jake's story began in ninth grade when he got his first Mac computer and learned GarageBand on his own. He began writing songs, making beats, singing, and rapping. "I had no idea what I was doing, so I would write stupid songs and not really take it seriously. I did it out of boredom at first, but then people in my school said I was pretty good. So I started making videos for YouTube and the local news picked up on this 'white kid from Weston trying to rap, spitting game like you've never seen before,'" he explains in his best newscaster voice.
With a growing social media fan base and some local media attention, it wasn't long before music execs would catch onto what Jake was up to. Incredibly, he landed his debut live performance opening for rap legend Snoop Dogg in Florida in 2011. This kicked off a year filled with other incredible opportunities, such as opening for his musical hero, Mac Miller, winning the Samsung & T-Mobile national “Kick it with the Band” competition, performing alongside Flo Rida, Sean Kingston, and Asher Roth at the Think Pink Rocks concert, and sharing the bill at the Y-100 Jingle Ball. He closed out 2011 by ringing in the New Year at the Orange Drive Miami Beach Music Festival with Jason Derulo, CeeLo Green, and Ne-Yo.
The next two years were equally banner years for the young, prolific, and hard-working artist. Jake continued to play festivals and radio shows, including the famed Calle Ocho Festival in Miami in front of a crowd of 200,000+ and shows for Y-100 with Austin Mahone, Sammy Adams, and J Rand, as well as a performance at the NBA championship finals. Naturally, the national media's ears perked up too. The Miami Herald wrote, "At just 19, the singer-songwriter is a Web sensation," and J-14 magazine, Teen.com, Seventeen.com, and YoungHollywood.com have all given the artist some ink. 2013 kicked off with Jake's first national headlining tour, which picks up again in the Fall to coincide with the release of "Us Against Them."
Building a fan base the old-fashioned way - one show at a time - and the new digital age way - one YouTube video at a time, Jake has close to 25 million views on his YouTube channel alone. He also has over 367,000 followers on Instagram, over 300,000 followers on Twitter, 204,000 and counting Facebook likes, and 156,000 followers on Vine. Yes MTV - Jake Miller is about to blow up indeed.
"This has been the time of my life, especially meeting fans. I've had a lot of great moments in the past year or so, but every show, every YouTube hit, every meet-and-greet is just building to what's ahead for me," he adds.
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