Ask any artist where the money comes from in 2011 and the answer is the road. Despite "Blue Slide Park's" second week sales dropping 83 percent, the fourth largest fall from No. 1 in 20 years according to The New York Times, Miller will likely have no problems paying his bills.

Miller has spent the past two years touring relentlessly. He began as the opening act on his friend Wiz Khalifa's "Waken Baken" tour in 2010. The warm receptions and Miller's rising profile led to his first headlining trek, the "Incredibly Dope Tour." He frequented the Baltimore area, supporting Khalifa at Pier Six Pavilion and Merriweather Post Pavilion this past summer.

I watched Miller's set at Rams Head Live last December from the balcony. It was Wiz's show but the audience erupted once Miller hit the stage. A small woman, at least 20 years older than crowd's average age, introduced herself as Mac's mother, Mrs. McCormick. Standing next to her other son, a recent Penn State graduate, Mac's mother seemed surprised at the hold her son had on the crowd. "He's the next big thing," I told her as a stranger next to me nodded in agreement. "Really?" she asked. She had no idea then, but probably understands now.

After "Blue Slide Park's" success, Miller could have chosen to open up for a radio-tested pop act or a hip-hop superstar, but he's decided to bet on his own headlining tour once again. It appears to be paying off: Thursday's Fillmore Silver Spring show is sold out.

Learn from others

Remember Asher Roth? He's the white rapper who signed to SRC/Universal Motown and released the disappointing flop "Asleep in the Bread Aisle." His innocuous hit, "I Love College," is now a punchline in the songs-to-forget canon.

There are plenty of parallels to draw between Roth and Miller — both MCs love a good time, can rap well enough and appeal to the university set. But Miller is the shrewder businessman, taking the unconventional path to stardom.

Both artists were subjects to major-label bidding wars, but Miller was informed by Roth's mistakes. He watched Roth find initial success with a gimmicky single only to watch the label give up after the hype died down. Wisely, Miller stuck to his plan of selling himself as a normal teen, making low-stakes songs about partying that had just enough edge to never appear corny to suburbs.

Ironically, it's now Roth watching Miller.

The week "Blue Slide Park" debuted at No. 1, the first relevant Asher Roth news emerged in a long time: Je had signed to Def Jam Records for a chance at a do-over. It's a classic case of a major label attempting to strike while the iron is white hot.

wesley@bthesite.com
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