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Looking forward (and back) with Jake Miller

The Weston rapper and singer talks about his music and his mentor on the eve of his first headlining tour and the release of his debut album.

By Ben Crandell, SouthFlorida.com

11:17 PM EDT, October 31, 2013

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In just a few short years, 20-year-old Jake Miller has gone from creating YouTube selfies to performing live alongside hip-hop royalty such as Snoop Dogg, Flo Rida, Mac Miller, Sean Kingston and Asher Roth. He has more than 320,000 followers on Twitter. MTV Buzzworthy has admitted to being “mildly obsessed” with him. And, on Friday, Miller will begin his first national headlining tour at the Fillmore Miami Beach.

But amid all the glamour and hip-hop hoopla, when Miller wants to keep things real, he turns to a middle-aged eye doctor from Weston.

“After every show, I go backstage, and everybody says, ‘Great show, great show.’ But he gives me an honest critique, which helps me get better,” Miller says. “I’m about to play, like, 40 straight shows. Something is bound to go wrong.”

Miller’s backstage mentor is Bruce Miller, his father, who will be at Friday’s performance.

“He likes to stand at the very back of the crowd, to see the fans’ point of view. One thing he pointed out is that I need to pay attention to the whole room, including the fans in the back, the fans on the second floor,” Miller says. “It’s hard, because the lights are blinding. But a lot of the true fans maybe can’t always get great seats.”

The lights are about to get brighter for the Bieber-ishly handsome Cypress Bay High School ex, who will release his debut album, “Us Against Them,” on Tuesday. There is an evolving eclecticism in Miller’s music and his singing, which ought to broaden his appeal to include those put off by the “rapper” label he’s been carrying.

Miller counts rootsy troubadour Jack Johnson among his influences (along with the Beatles and John Mayer), and the video for his upbeat dance-pop single “Collide” opens with him holding an acoustic guitar at Fort Lauderdale beach.

“I wouldn’t say I’m urban or the beach. Maybe a little of both. I’m just a big music lover in general,” he says.

“Us Against Them” touches on a range of genres, from acoustic balladry to EDM. Miller says he will “leave it up to the fans to decide” what the title means. The essential message, he says, is hope.

“Everybody at some time is suffering, whether it’s a kid being bullied or an adult who doesn’t like his job, or lost a family member,” he says. “[The new music] is definitely upbeat, songs that say ‘Everything’s good. Everything’s going to be alright.’”

IF YOU GO
Jake Miller will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave. Tickets cost $25, $32 at the box office and Ticketmaster outlets. Call 305-673-7300 or go to FillmoreMB.com.

Get daily updates on South Florida entertainment and things to do at SouthFlorida.com, on Twitter at @BenCrandell and Instagram /BenCrandell.