Watch out, Justin Bieber — there’s a new guy in town, and his name is Jake Miller. Miller is a 20-year-old rap, pop and hip-hop artist from Florida, and he is in the process of taking the world by storm with his first headlining tour and a brand new album, “Us Against Them.” He is currently touring the country, meeting fans and signing albums, but on Nov. 7, in the midst of a crowded mall meet-and-greet, yours truly got to chat with this up-and-coming star about all the craziness.
We first talked about the current tour and the new album, both of which are getting his name spread around the country like wildfire. “Us Against Them” is different than his first two EPs. He said, “It is absolutely more fun. It’s more of a ‘windows-down’ kind of sound.” MTV said several months back that Miller was about to blow up, and he definitely is, with his years of hard work finally paying off.
Miller’s music is technically considered rap, but he is unlike many other rappers today. He said, “Every day is a new adventure. I love helping people and changing their lives with my music. Fans have come up to me crying at meet-and-greets, telling me stories about how my music has helped them get through some rough times. I like to have meaning in my songs — not the usual drugs, money and girls like most rappers out there today. My music is a new genre.” One example of this is his song “I’m Alright,” which talks about a homeless man who still manages to see the good things in life.
Besides being an inspirational artist, Miller is incredibly close to all his fans, collectively referred to as the “Millertary.” Obviously he can’t meet everybody, but he tries his hardest. While most artists are heading to the next city before anyone is out of the arena, Jake tweets fans telling them to wait outside by his tour bus after the show. He is also doing something that no other artist has ever done before: “I am hiding golden tickets in five of the new albums. Whoever finds one gets to come to any show for free, forever.”
Miller’s music also has a lot to do with his fans. The best example of this is “A Million Lives.” It is about encounters and letters from fans telling him their struggles — including battling cancer, bullying and a brother’s death — and how his music helped them feel strong. Miller explained, “The song is all based off of real stories. The girl in the music video is actually a friend of mine who has battled cancer.”
Jake is a very nice-looking guy, and with that always comes lots of screaming fans. In his words, “It’s definitely strange. I’m so used to being in the audience, so it’s weird to be on the other side of it.” However, he makes the most of it. For his one song, “My Couch,” he got an actual couch for the show. “I bring a girl up onstage, sit her on the couch and sing to her. I even give her a bowl of popcorn.” It appears the fans also want to give something back to him in return for his amazing lyrics: “I don’t even know how many hats I have. Fans bring them to me at every show. Sometimes the fans bring me five hats a night!”
While the fans’ love is an upside to the job, there are definitely some downsides. Miller explained, “There is another side to the industry. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine. It’s hard being away from everyone at home. It also gets ugly when you have a music label, and sometimes they just don’t understand what you are going through.” However, through it all, he manages to stay grounded and keep his drive strong. The last song on the album is “Number One Rule,” which is about how one should never settle for being second best. He said, “If you have a specific goal in mind, you won’t let anyone get in your way.” He definitely hasn’t let this happen.
Miller is an incredibly genuine guy who puts his fans before anyone else, wants to change people’s lives with his music and is a role model for anyone who has a dream. His album “Us Against Them” is out now, and you can see him perform in Philadelphia Thursday, Nov. 14, at Theatre of the Living Arts. Follow him on Twitter @jakemillermusic, check out his website at jakemiller.com, and follow him on Facebook to be a part of the “Millertary.”