The sun was blazing. The youth didn’t care. Moshpits. Shirtless dancing. Singing at the top of their lungs. This scene was the crowd in front of US rapper-producer, Mac Miller, when he took to the stage at Superbalist in the City on Sunday.

From when he stepped up to the mic – in a hoodie and shorts – to start the show with Cinderella (“I’ve been waiting all night for this moment,” he sang) to ending things with the incredibly popular Loud – and minus the hoodie – Miller brought the heat, literally and figuratively. And the love was reciprocated.

Halfway through his set, he confessed that the Jozi audience were way better than the one he performed for at Superbalist is Rocking the Daisies the night before. After his performance, we catch up one-on-one in his team’s production office backstage.

For someone who has just given a super high-energy show, he’s still in good spirits, laughing heartily at my jokes and opening up about his music. When I get to sit down with him – and the hoodie is back because “it’s a comfort thing” – I ask him if Jozi was really swaggier.

“It’s crazy,” Miller exclaims. “Yes! There was so much energy out there. I switched the set around after Cape Town and played the newer stuff which made me happy. We did some stuff we’ve never done before!

“I don’t know what took me so long,” he says about finally gigging in Mzansi. “It was a very long time and being on that stage today was an amazing experience. I guess I was waiting for this show to happen. Hearing people sing every word from this new album, it’s crazy how music can travel so fast.”

The Pittsburgh artist says he’s in awe of how far his music has allowed him to travel.

“Music is such a universal language that you go everywhere and people are touched by it. This is faaar away from Pittsburgh,” he laughs.

“You come here and perform some new songs and everyone is right with you. Up to this point, that crowd out there was right with me more than anybody. The crowd in South Africa has been more on pace with me, which is dope. They responded to what I want them to respond to.”

Of course, people were vibing with cuts from his debut album, Blue Slide Park (2011), and Watching Movies With the Sound Off (2013), as well as GO:OD AM (2015). But Miller is surprised that his fourth and most recent album, The Divine Feminine (2016), was resonating with his audience. Perhaps it’s because, of the four, this is the album when he shifts his focus from introspection to outward: looking at and talking to women in a myriad ways.

This is evinced by songs like Skin, Cinderella, Soulmate and more. I ask if that was the idea behind this offering.

“I look at this album like we’re always searching for answers everywhere,” Miller explains.

“That’s just life’s journey. This album is me searching for those answers in love. I realised I hadn’t been making as many love songs, even though I love to make them. I love love songs. It’s nice to talk to somebody in music rather than talking to yourself the entire time.”

Miller chose the word “divine” in his title because: “I’m searching for that divine intervention and religious experience. A spiritual awakening in love instead of other places. It’s looking for the universe within a woman.”

While the focus is on women, I tell him that I find it peculiar that all of the features – Anderson .Paak, Kendrick Lamar, Ty Dolla $ign etc – on this album are men. Well, except for My Favorite Part, a song that features his rumoured girlfriend, Ariana Grande.The 24-year-old says getting help from male musicians was intentional.

“There are a lot of guys,” he acquiesces, “but there’s a lot of women on the album in different ways. I’m not trying to feel like I know the female experience in any way. I don’t. I’m enquiring about it. There are women doing background vocals here and there and definitely present, but I also didn’t want to personify who the divine feminine is. We’re all just searching for it.”

Before I let Miller go, I just have to know: why did he name his producer alter ego Larry Fisherman? He bursts into laughter when I raise this.

“In my mind there is a part of me, there’s a 70-year-old man who is a loner and travels out to sea on a canoe and is completely self-sufficient and creates for nobody other than himself. That’s Larry Fisherman. It’s very much for me.”

Having openly struggled with addiction, I get the sense that Miller needs Fisherman for much more than just a different outlet. So I ask what that side does for him that the man the world knows can’t.

“It keeps me sane,” he admits.

“Music is based on a feeling and a lot of times, people fall in love with an artist because of that feeling the music gave them and they always want that. For me to be able to go to all these places allows me to remove expectation and perception and remove the idea of what a commercial success is. I just love to make music.”