Jake Miller is like your favorite ice cream. A perfect combination of inoffensiveness, sweetness and cuteness. With a surge of white rap artists breaking into the mainstream, I’ve been wondering if it’s only a matter of time before Jake has his shot at a number one. His first single for a major label “First Flight Home” was definitely penned with the intention of it being a smash hit. Whether America wants a Jewish boy to reign on the charts is anyone’s guess, but I would like to make an argument for why we need more of Jake on top 40.
It was a pretty cruel thing what happened with “Collide.” The opening single for Jake’s first LP “Us Against Them”, “Collide” is a taste of EDM/ rap magic. And it went nowhere. There are a lot of factors that played into this. For one, Jake had no major label supporting him. He also had barely any promo beyond what he could reach on social media. Target and Best Buy picked up his album and it actually debuted pretty modestly on Billboard, but the actual impact on the charts was very little. This wasn’t without effort. Jake is a hustler. Throughout 2013, Jake toured nearly 100 cities, shot two YouTube series, made three music videos and released an album. For what he didn’t have with a huge label, Jake made up for by promoting himself in every medium possible. It’s a shame the album didn’t become a runaway hit because “Us Against Them” is a pop wonderland. Jake played the role of an all-American boy with charm and cockiness perfectly on nearly every track.
The album is extremely prideful of how innocent is. On “My Couch” Jake raps about how his girl would rather stay at home watching Netflix with him than go out to a bar. On “Heaven” he claims he’s been “self-made since fifth grade”. And for the single that did make it to radio, “A Million Lives”, Jake turns the table on the fans who say he changed his life by saying they saved his.
Jake is at his best when he’s playing the boyfriend every girl dreams about. His love songs are so perfectly crafted with a boyish rap and sweet lyrics that he makes himself extremely identifiable. And he come across as a genuinely nice and humble person. When Iggy Azalea finally broke through with “Fancy”, I began to speculate whether–with the right music video and song–Jake could find himself with the same type of success. Iggy is enjoying hers partly due to how music and also because of her her image. A fierce, blonde white girl who raps–what a novelty. Jake’s success depends as much on his image as Iggy’s does and they both have their’s crafted extremely well. He also seems to want to be the at the top more than many pop artists on the grind. Monthly he tweets his plans for domination: From performing at the VMAs to scoring his first number one hit. Jake has big dreams and his label Warner Brother is sitting on a potential household name if they market him correctly.
One of my favorite things Jake has done is his two web series. Jake embarked on two North American tours last year and turned them both into a slice of life documentary series for YouTube. The series give you an inside look at how fast-paced touring life is, and also provide a glowing portrait of the artist. In every episode he appears affable, humorous and ready to grab every show by the horns.
Here’s what I would like to see from the first major label debut from Jake:
- More singing. Unlike most rappers (Iggy, Macklemore, Sammy Adams….) Jake can sing damn well. In fact I kind of like the tracks where he sings more than he raps.
- More pop beats–Jake’s brand is built on combining schoolboy rap and pop music. He does it effortlessly on tracks like “Let You Go”, “Hollywood” and “My Couch.”
- A really well done music video. Please, WB give him a budget. Let him liveeee.
- A collaboration with a great musician..
- A HUGE push to radio. Send this dude to every radio station, award show and GET HIM ON TV. One of Jake’s strongest assets is his live shows. I saw him at a short set for radio last year and he was so charismatic and engaging. This is also what makes people buy singles.
At this point the pending success or failure of Miller’s machine is a waiting game. It takes a while for singles to catch on. Today I heard “First Flight Home” on the radio for the first time. It was so shocking that it took me a few seconds to process it. “Is that….” I thought, as I sat at a drive-through waiting on my meal. I turned the radio up. “IT IS,” my brain confirmed. “It’s Jake Miller!” I felt a strange sense of pride hearing his giddy, boyish voice on the radio for the first time. I felt like maybe, just maybe a Jake Miller takeover is about to happen.
I really hope it does.