There's a scene at the end of the 2006 Adam Sandler comedy "Click" that makes rapper Mac Miller cry every time he watches it. Thanks to his magical, fast-forwarding remote control, Sandler's character realizes he made a mistake by spending too much time working and not enough time with his family — only it's too late because he's dying.
"It hits home for me," said Miller (real name: Malcolm McCormick) over the phone Sunday from Paris, where he performed later that day. "That whole part about him going through his life not being with his family, I always start crying. It's gotten me a good four or five times."
It's not surprising that a 21-year-old artist who began touring as a teenager and moved from his hometown of Pittsburgh to Los Angeles last year (which was chronicled on the six-episode "Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family" on MTV2) feels like he is missing out on family time. What is surprising is that a white rapper who struggled to earn respect in a music genre known for its bravado and street credibility is willing to admit he has a soft side.
Miller, who will perform Friday at the North Coast Music Festival in Union Park, said he's not too worried about his reputation — at least not anymore.
"It is what it is," said Miller. "I used to get worried about people understanding who I was and who I am as a person. That's why I got so (mad) when, after (my debut album) 'Blue Slide Park,' there was this whole incorrect idea about who I was. That upset me and it shouldn't have. Now I realize it's about actual life experiences that directly involve me, and enjoying them."
Miller said his frustration stemmed from critics slamming him for not paying his dues in the industry. He feels there was a perception that he was an overnight success because he was only 19 when his debut album reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2011.
(According to Billboard, it marked the first time an independently-distributed debut album opened at No. 1 since 1995.)
"I was putting out mixtapes from the time I was 15," Miller said. "It took about four years of driving around handing out mixtapes in a Volvo and performing when there were only 10 people there. I didn't just put out a mixtape on the Internet and get famous. But that's what they were saying about me. I used to care so much, but I don't really anymore."
That might explain why Miller was willing to appear on the hit single "The Way" with pop singer and former Nickelodeon actress Ariana Grande. While established rappers can get away with slipping in and out of the pop world with little to no backlash, there is a risk when you're an artist still trying to earn respect in the rap game. The song paid off for Miller, who said the double platinum-selling song is the most successful track he's been a part of. Still, don't expect him to become a regular in the pop world to up his profile. Miller wants to ascend to the mainstream on his terms.
For now, he's enjoying slowly winning over the rap community. His sophomore album, "Watching Movies with the Sound Off," released in June, reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200, and he is heading back to Europe in October to open for Lil Wayne.
"I touched (the mainstream) a little bit in 2011 when I had the No. 1 album, but I don't think I got all the way there," Miller said. "I want to get to that point the right way. I would like it to happen organically rather than come up with a diabolical plan to become mainstream. I always tell myself I'm only 21, there's no rush."
Clearly, someone learned a thing or two from watching "Click."
Mac Miller at North Coast Music Festival
When: 8 p.m. Friday (festival runs through Sunday)
Where: Union Park, 228 S. Racine Ave.
Tickets: $55 for single-day pass, northcoastfestival.comCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun