PITTSBURGH — Some call it Steel City, others call it the City of Bridges, but Mac Miller simply calls his hometown "the illest city in the world."
After releasing his 2010 mixtape K.I.D.S., Miller set out and toured the world, spending more and more time away from home. It was that time away that inspired the name for Mac's debut album, Blue Slide Park. Named after his favorite childhood hangout, Mac aimed to shine the spotlight on his city. After months of touring in 2011, the "Knock, Knock" MC invited MTV News to come out to a pair of homecoming shows back in December and gave us a tour of the 'Burgh, starting, of course, with Blue Slide Park, a playground tucked inside the much-larger Frick Park.
"Welcome to the world-famous Blue Slide Park," Mac told MTV News, acting as our tour guide.
If you aren't from the 'Burgh, chances are you didn't quite catch the significance of BSP's opening track, "English Lane," but after a trip to the real-life playground, it all starts to make sense. "I was literally walking to Blue Slide Park and the album was almost done and I was walking to get some last-minute inspiration," Mac said, explaining how the park's adjacent street became the title for the #1 LP's first song. "I walked by and was like, 'English Lane would be an ill title for a song, that's how I wanna open the album ,with a song called 'English Lane,' ' because that's how you walk up to Blue Slide Park."
Granted, some of the scenery has changed, for instance, the slide isn't quite as blue these days. "When I announced that I was coming out with an album called Blue Slide Park, some vandalizing kids dumped a bucket of red paint down the slide," the 20-year old rapper said with some disappointment.
Still, while walking through the famed playground and its surrounding area, the memories began to mount for Mac. There were his baseball days at Stan Lederman Field and the make-out sessions that followed his little league victories. "I was into girls in the fifth grade," Mac said while showing off a low-key cove where he'd take his junior high school honeys.
Now, when the breakout rap star returns to his old stomping grounds, word spreads quickly as fans flock to the neighborhood hangout in hopes for an autograph or a picture with Miller. Still, it all provides a certain comfort. Back in July, after Mac first announced the album's title, he explained what it all meant to MTV News.
"No matter what happens in life, no matter where you go, where you're off to, what happens with the park, that slide will always be blue. That will always be Blue Slide Park no matter what," he said. "You can go to New York and live for 10 years and become a huge business mogul and then come back to the 'Burgh and no matter how much money you got, that slide is still blue."
Barring any vandals, of course.
Stick with MTV News all week as Mac Miller takes us back to the 'Burgh and spotlights the city's vibrant hip-hop scene. Then tune into "RapFix Live" Wednesday at 4 p.m. on MTV.com for exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from Mac's hometown shows.