Noel Miller is a comic at coronary heart. A lot in order that when he remembers certainly one of his earliest childhood reminiscences over Zoom – the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles, which compelled his household to maneuver again to his hometown of Toronto when he was simply 4 – Miller can’t assist however shut it with a punchline of types.
“My dad and mom thought I used to be lifeless. They have been calling out to me and I wasn’t responding. Every part that was in a cupboard or a shelf had fallen over. They couldn’t get to my room instantly. In order they have been calling out to me, finally I awoke and I used to be like, ‘Yeah.’ I had no clue what was occurring,” he says with a smirk. “I slept by way of the entire thing.”
Discovering humor in even essentially the most unlucky life experiences is what Miller’s identified for. From studying off-base fan DMs to reacting to out-of-pocket TikToks to questioning the bullying techniques of Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath along with his Tiny Meat Gang co-host and collaborator Cody Ko, Miller is swift with regards to his comedic timing. He’s such a pure, it’s exhausting to think about that he’s ever thought of one other profession path.
And but, Noel Miller is rapping. Significantly rapping.
Since March, Miller has uploaded two music movies to his YouTube channel – which is normally composed of response movies and different hijinks – underneath the moniker NOEL. His following of two.6 million subscribers at the moment are additionally subscribing to the maker of “Rat Race” and “Pacemaker,” tracks the place he spits over gritty manufacturing, detailing his strategy to fame and different profession strikes with a straight face.
As Miller explains, lots of his inventive concepts are in “stark distinction” to the comedy he’s finest identified for. On “Rat Race,” Miller flexes his business-savvy nature, tossing in some intelligent bars (“Deal with this rap s–t like twins/ What I imply by that’s I simply needed to”). And on “Pacemaker,” he runs by way of the sacrifices he needed to make to get there, like sleeping on flooring in 2010, and the duties that include monetary consolation.
Whereas Miller nonetheless sprinkles punchlines all through his work, rapping in a non-satirical sense is an idea that followers of the funnyman are nonetheless wrapping their heads round However this isn’t a profession pivot: Miller has been a rapper, far earlier than his stand-up profession beginnings or his first Vine account took off years earlier than.
Miller discovered which means in hip-hop when he discovered which means in comedy, he explains. Along with his father being a classically educated musician expert at piano and violin, Miller was inspired at a younger age to check out some devices of his personal – none of which caught with him. What did follow him in his adolescence was music discovery on Napster and the call-and-request music video channel The Field, the place he was first launched to the lore of Money Cash Information–the New Orleans Common imprint, residence to game-changing rappers Lil Wayne and Juvenile.
“I can’t keep in mind how younger I used to be, however I keep in mind once I realized that Juvenile had gone to jail,” Miller displays to Billboard from his Los Angeles residence. “And I used to be unhappy. I keep in mind watching his first large single again, they shot a music video for it. And I keep in mind being genuinely comfortable, like, ‘Juvenile is out of jail!’”
Round that very same time, the Toronto-born, L.A.-bred Miller found BET and Comedy Central, as he turned accustomed to stand-up comedy by way of the specials he watched on tv. Earlier than he even thought of chasing influencer standing, he spent nights making an attempt to affect his mates that he was a worthy keystyling opponent – basically battle-rapping them over immediate messenger – and working towards rhymes over pre-made beats from his center college friends.
Miller says he solely obtained critical about his schooling – which didn’t essentially embrace asking his mates to ship over beats – later in highschool, and that he finally attended the “solely faculty that might have taken me” to check enterprise. On the aspect, he interned at a music studio, labored for an artist administration firm, and was employed at Finest Purchase to make ends meet, his work schedule resulting in many sleepless nights. Miller says that all of it occurred at a time when the web didn’t supply a lot steering to younger creatives like him.
“I ended up dropping out in my second-to-last semester. And I dropped out for some time,” Miller explains. “And at the moment, I went fairly exhausting with making an attempt to be inventive once more. However in that course of, I went very broke. And I went into a whole lot of debt and I wanted cash and I wanted a whole lot of it quick.”
Along with his first large pivot, Miller turned to net improvement and engineering. Whereas prioritizing making a web site for him and his mates’ manufacturing crew, he discovered jobs to get by along with his self-taught abilities. “Engineering teaches us type of useful methods to work, like isolate sure features of a mission after which to deliver it right into a full imaginative and prescient,” he says. “I believe all that stuff helps with the peripherals to music, so far as executing it… However you bought to be proper with your self to make music earlier than we get to any of that.”
In 2014 and 2015, Miller started to place collectively the items for what would finally turn into a following of hundreds of thousands after every thing else took a backseat with the loss of life of a detailed buddy. “I don’t wish to identify drop, however he simply got here from a really gifted household. He handed after which I believe weirdly, that put me off from making music,” Miller says. “I took a step again from being inventive [for a while]. [But with] all these bulls–t jobs I used to be working, I wished to be doing inventive stuff.”
That’s when Miller says he determined to pivot to comedy. “I’d attempt to shoot a whole lot of sketches with my mates and attempt to get one thing going there,” he says. “After which I naturally landed on arise.”
Miller noticed his star develop by way of Vine, the place he finally perfected the artwork of constructing 6-second movies, due to his breakout “skinny penis” clip. He discovered a method on the social media app, and stand-up reveals then turned extra of a risk, with promoters flaunting his rising following of 1000’s.
“I spotted that folks on Vine have been getting a whole lot of success simply from getting eyeballs on them,” he says. “So eight years in the past, I had it in my head, like, ‘Oh, if I create leisure on-line, then that might allow me to promote tickets.’ That was an concept that was type of laughed at again then.”
Because of Vine, Miller ended up being the one laughing – and he, alongside along with his comedy ride-or-die Cody Ko, have hundreds of thousands laughing with them. As the 2 transitioned from quick clips to tackling the YouTube response format with ease, they launched their fan-loved podcast Tiny Meat Gang in 2017, together with a satirical musical duo of the identical identify, which signed to Arista Information in October of 2019.
It’s doubtless you’ve seen a few of their largest YouTube movies too, just like the “That’s Cringe” sequence or their deep dive into the “Kombucha King,” a few of which have earned over 30 million views. And you’ll have heard their music, which nonetheless earns them a powerful million month-to-month Spotify listeners, regardless of them having not launched new materials in over a 12 months. “Broke Bitch” and “quick kings anthem” clearly have some lasting energy, with 47 and 60 million streams on Spotify respectively. However for Miller, whereas TMG is a enjoyable detour, making comedy-tinted music was much more tough than rapping with honesty and intention.
“It’s at all times, in my view, a bit of bit low-risk. With comedy, it’s straightforward to type of self-deprecate, or type of cop out and say, if the jokes are dangerous, ‘I’m an fool.’ It doesn’t scare me or make me nervous, per se,” Miller shares candidly. “However music – I believe music, I positively get much more in my head, as a result of I’m nonetheless at a degree the place I’m nonetheless studying open up and be direct.”
That mentality helped Miller to return into his personal as NOEL in 2020. Dropping his final identify and independently releasing his first single “Motor Yola” and his EP Push later within the 12 months, NOEL put the humorous enterprise apart momentarily and entered the world of hip-hop for actual this time. He seems again at his earlier efforts as a bit much less assured than how he sounds immediately in “Rat Race” and “Pacemaker” – each of that are produced by mates AMON and Spock, who he met on-line in 2017 and constructed a inventive relationship off the bat with.
“Noel is somebody who at all times places his finest foot ahead and goes excessive to push the envelope,” Spock explains. “Whether or not or not you benefit from the music, I imagine it’s important to respect the boldness of the imaginative and prescient and course… It used to really feel like we have been forcing something out simply to get one thing carried out, however now I believe he’s let go of some inhibitions and is lastly assured saying what he desires.”
Now with a small crew of brokers at UTA and an lawyer backing him, NOEL’s solo footprint is simply rising. Prime feedback on NOEL’s movies make it clear what his followers consider his newest choices: He’s been referred to as a “jack of all trades,” and the “complete package deal” for having the ability to steadiness as many artforms as he does, as some even plead for extra frequent solo music movies from the comic, who’s sitting round 100,000 month-to-month Spotify listeners.
Whereas obsessed with his comedic work, Miller had oftentimes shied away from permitting his imaginative and prescient for music to materialize, not figuring out how his followers would really feel about his detour into hip-hop.
“For thus lengthy, I’ve made a whole lot of content material that’s simply content material. It’s issues that service a here-and-now,” he explains. “However I believe I’m at a degree the place sitting on [music I want people to hear], it’s not price it to me anymore. Folks can have interaction these concepts the identical approach I do… I need it to be entertaining, however I additionally need it to be significant.”
Miller now admits there have been nerves concerned in sharing his two most up-to-date singles as visuals, and definitely some with the opposite materials he’s been holding again, however introducing his skills to new audiences, and his personal viewers, make it price it. Even when the critiques might be loud.
“Folks type of interpreted it as, ‘Oh, why is he making an attempt to compensate as a result of he did comedy music earlier than? And now he’s making an attempt to go further powerful with this,’” NOEL says of a number of the pushback he’s handled. “It actually doesn’t f–king matter. With the best way artwork and media are normally, you are able to do a whole lot of issues. And also you’ll in all probability discover an viewers inside every class. And generally you’ll discover you’ll discover those that don’t even care concerning the different stuff that you simply do.”
NOEL is grateful that he may very nicely be introducing followers of his humor to a number of the sounds he grew up on. However he nonetheless comes off bashful and admits he doesn’t suppose he’s on the level the place he must be anybody’s introduction to rap, since he’s nonetheless comparatively new to self-releasing music.
Whereas he lists out a few of his personal favourite rappers in underground heroes Conway the Machine, Boldy James, and Tony Shhnow, he’s uncertain if he and people inside his private rotation will ever collaborate – though he does deliver up the truth that Conway’s Griselda Information co-star Benny the Butcher has collaborated with Barstool, as a joke – however he’s prepared to show himself to search out out.
“The place do I land on the spectrum?” NOEL asks rhetorically of the place he, as a YouTuber, would mix into the rap world. “As a result of I don’t know. I believe the onus is on me to only present that I’m critical about it and put out some materials that makes folks really feel like, ‘This man could make music.’ That’s what I’ve to ship on.”
These in Miller’s circle, like producer AMON, know Miller is a hip-hop head at coronary heart, with sufficient “extraordinarily particular” data to do the dance himself. On a monitor like “Pacemaker,” he performs that up by choosing some boastful bars about earning profits and his hefty work schedule, whereas throwing some spiritual metaphors in there to indicate how critical he’s about proving his skillset. “I’d say most of all he’s very self-aware and self-critical,” Amon says. “He has a really attention-grabbing story to inform, and it’s about time he tells it.”
And NOEL’s timing couldn’t have been higher, since one of many largest breakout stars this summer time has been one other creator-turned-musician in alt-R&B star Joji — who obtained his begin as George Miller, the YouTube mastermind behind the vulgar character Filthy Frank and is just celebrating his first high 10 hit on the Sizzling 100 in “Glimpse Of Us.” So who’s to say Miller isn’t able to being taken severely now as nicely?
“I like him, as a result of I believe I’ve at all times approached issues, particularly with comedy, very actually – it’s very who you’re, and experiences you’ve been by way of. It’s not behind a personality,” NOEL says of his YouTuber-turned-hitmaker predecessor. “However I believe it’s cool that George has been in a position to be Filthy Frank and create lore round this stuff, after which finally transition into what is definitely a really sincere and possibly true model of himself.”
NOEL hopes to be amongst that class of content material creators who could make a transition into music – however with followers working up his views to about 400,000 on every of his latest music movies, which is normal for a few of his comedy movies, his most significant artwork is seeing love. And he plans to stick with it, whereas nonetheless prioritizing his punchlines.
“I’ve actually honed in on who I’m as an precise individual,” he says. “And I don’t at all times suppose that’s even related to listeners – to be sincere, I don’t suppose most listeners give a f–okay. However I believe it’s how I could make music for a very long time, as a result of I really feel like I’m being true to myself.”