BY ILANA SPERLING
Waking up on his tour bus to the sound of screaming fans has become normal for Bay alumnus, rapper Jake Miller, who is currently in the middle of headlining his second national tour. After graduating in 2011, Miller said he took a great risk and has no regrets.
“When I graduated high school, I took a year off, I got accepted to seven or eight schools but I turned them down,” he said. “I wanted to see where [music] would get me. I made a deal with my parents that after one year, if this didn’t work out I would go back to school and start as a freshman.”
On Nov. 5 he released the hip-hop and rap album “Us Against Them,” which hit No. 26 on the Billboard charts within the first week, and Miller announced last week that he signed a record deal with Warner Bros.
“It feels amazing. I hear ‘Collide’ on the radio every few days and I still haven’t gotten used to it,” he said. “Next year Warner Bros. will take what I’ve built and blow it up to a larger scale.”
After graduation, Miller said his friends went off to college and he locked himself in his room all summer writing raps.
“We went in different paths. They’re experiencing the social fraternity life, and I’m working on my music,” he said. “I’m not more grown up or more mature. It’s a different life. I love when my friends come on tour with me.”
Senior Jenny Miller, said she loves visiting her brother on tour, and his fame has caused her family to bond.
“By Jake getting more and more famous, my family’s bond has grown even stronger than it was. Some of my favorite weekends are the ones my parents and me spend flying up to see Jake perform in a different city each time,” she said.
Jenny said she has learned many lessons from her brother’s accomplishments.
“My brother’s success has taught me so many things,” she said. “It has showed me how far a dream can take you if you are passionate and determined to succeed. It also taught me never to give up.”
Starting out singing locally and moving on to a national tour to 43 different cities has been an amazing experience, Miller said.
“For a while I was performing in my home town, but booking my first tour is what turned everything around,” he said. “It opened my eyes, having soldout shows was new to me.”
Miller said some of his favorite things are seeing fans with his lyrics tattooed on their bodies, and when his friends visit him on tour.
“This experience has changed everything about me,” he said. “I have a whole new set of best friends that are on the road with me. But I really like when friends from home come. It’s great when they see screaming fans. They aren’t used to it.”
When Miller is not on tour, he lives the life of a normal adult who just turned 21. He spends time with his girlfriend, who also attended the Bay and now goes to Florida Atlantic University.
“I’ll wake up, go to the gym, and eat Chipotle,” he said. “I have a girlfriend, so I’m with her as much as possible. And I have family dinners.”
Miller said the person who inspired him the most in high school was English and creative writing teacher Joyce Seigel, and if it weren’t for her class he wouldn’t be where he is today.
“I started writing music for a project in Mrs. Seigel’s class where I had to turn poems into songs,” he said. “That project made me fall in love with music, writing and recording.”
Mrs. Seigel said she remembers exactly where Miller sat in her classroom, and can picture him presenting his project.
“He was really talented. It was adorable,” Mrs. Seigel. “I was so proud of him when I heard he was pursuing his love for music in other venues.”
Besides being supported by Mrs. Seigel, Miller said great teachers such as Jim Wurster and Leslie Rheingold inspired him, but his peers motivated him in other, unintentional, ways.
“I would walk through the hallways and kids would give me dirty looks. They were hating on what I did,” he said. “The more people that didn’t believe in me, the harder I wanted to work.”
As for the future, Miller said he doesn’t have materialistic goals, just hopes to inspire more fans.
“Throughout the whole process I’ve been trying to make music that will affect people in a positive way,” he said. “First it was about me being famous and trying to make it in the industry. But now it’s a lot deeper. I want to change fans’ lives.”
Miller’s advice to future graduates is to not fear rejection.
“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, put out as much content as possible,” he said.
Jenny said her brother’s accomplishments have shown her that others’ opinions should not affect her.
“Jake has also taught me that as long as I am happy, nothing anybody says or thinks matters. He took a huge risk, and at first many people didn’t take him seriously and didn’t think it was smart,” she said. “He proved everybody wrong because he knew in his heart what his goals were and I’m so lucky to have been there supporting him every step of the way. He inspires me to never give up on anything, never let anybody else’s opinion affect me, and always work hard in anything I decide to do.”