Mourning Mac Miller, the epitome of an artist

Dylan Whybra, Asst. Editor

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Mac Miller died on Sept. 7 to an apparent drug overdose. At this time it is unclear to what specific drug killed him in particular, but it is thought to be prescription drugs.

Mac Miller was the epitome of an artist. Something very unique about his music is that you can genuinely see

Mac Miller and Big Boi of the rap duo OutKast (Photo courtesy of Mac Miller’s Facebook)

the state he is at in his life based on the music he produced. Mac’s early music was immature and catered to a young audience. With the main subjects surrounding parties, marijuana & the fun of adolescence. The subjects of his early work stigmatized his name. The general image of Mac was seen as a white boy from the suburbs making party music in a genre deeply rooted in black culture; Mac was not to be taken seriously musically. His music transformed from a library lacking substance to one shrouded in darkness.

The mixtape Macadelic (2012) had raised eyebrows. Not only did it show growth in Mac’s music, it showed a gro

wing drug habit not only evident in his subject matter but in the lack of care he had toward it. Faces (2014) and Delusional Thomas (2013) were two projects he released detailing his problems with drug and alcohol abuse. These mixtapes were covered with themes of death and his struggles with addiction, the main difference between the two being that Delusional Thomas had a more prevalent theme of nihilism and featured a Mac Miller with pitched up vocals for the majority of the mixtape. Angel Dust off of Faces is a good example of these themes. It details Mac’s experiences with PCP over upbeat production ultimately telling the listener to stay away from the drug. Mac uses his experiences as he raps “Woke up annihilated, lying on the pavement/Covered in items I regurgitated under a fire escape.” in an effort to provide evidence of the dangers of PCP.

Watching Movies With The Sound Off (2013) was an album that was released before Faces & Delusional Thomas. This project was extremely opened-ended where Mac looks inside the deepest parts of his head; he created with the intent of everyone having their own interpretation of it. That being said, the album has some maturing themes prevalent in his later work, is heavily inspired by drugs and lyrics relating to some genuine introspective thought.

Mac’s past issues were pretty public in the sense that he had been open with his struggles. Grantland had a great piece that they did with Mac Miller back in 2015. In this piece Mac had been quoted saying, “I had this assistant and part of what he did was wipe the coke — and sometimes blood — off my rolled-up bills. And I had this moment when I looked at my ph

one and saw that I had him [listed] in there as ‘Intern.’ I asked him what he had me in his phone as. He said ‘My hero.’” Mac would state this as a breaking point for him and one of the reasons he would push himself to clean himself up and try to produce mu

sic to have a positive effect on others.

GO:OD AM is Mac Miller’s amazing third studio album. I see it as Mac trying to push past his past of drug addi

ction. He uses some points to simply rap and showcase his growth in lyrical ability like on Cut The Check while using other songs to convey deeper subjects. On Perfect    Circle / God Speed Mac raps:

 

“They don’t want me to OD and have to talk to my mother

Tell her they could have done more to help me

And she’d be crying saying that she’d do anything to have me back

All the nights I’m losing sleep, it was all a dream

There was a time that I believed that

But white lines be numbing them dark times

Them pills that I’m popping, I need to man up

Admit it’s a problem, I need a wake up

Before one morning I don’t wake up

You make your mistakes, your mistakes never make ya

I’m too obsessed with going down as a great one

But if you wait too long, they go find someone to replace ya”

 

Mac uses this song as an outlet to talk about his drug addiction and how his life could have ended due to his addiction. What is truly bone chilling is how similar the situation he raps about is to his actual death.

GO:OD AM (2015) was Mac’s first studio album that began to garner him some respect in hip-hop as he grew and matured.

The Divine Feminine (2016) is Mac Miller’s “love” album, as some may call it. It’s a concept album surrounding love and life. He describes the concept in such a fascinating way. The album relates the message of love in a relationship to the idea that life is much more enjoyable by treating the world how you are supposed to treat a female (contrary to the common message in hip-hop relating to women.) The Divine Feminine was critically acclaimed, considered a standout album of 2016 and is still thought of as some of Mac Miller’s best work.

His last album Swimming (2018) shows a Mac Miller who had learned how to swim in the body of water that he would have drowned in in the past. The album focuses on how Mac had begun to overcome issues without the use of drugs

. The album follows themes of optimism and making the most of what you have here and today. Mac recorded most of this in his home but spent a considerable amount of time and money to record a few tracks like Perfecto and Wings in Chile and Hawaii. He chose to leave his home to get into a better headspace to record these tracks. On Wings Mac raps:

 

“I guess I just play it by ear, silence is all that I hear

Listenin’ close as I can

Growin’ up (One, two, three) jump

Nobody holdin’ my hand though

Trust is a problem, never knew how

Yeah, that’s why I just keep

to myself

Get what I need, and I be out (please tell me)

Who can surf the universe with me?

Lucifer is human, so are we

All I ever want is what I need

And that don’t include your time and company”

Here Mac talks about his insecurities and his difficulties to trust others and let them in. He admits here and across the album some of the shortcomings that he has come to terms with that he was unable to in the past. The album conveys a message of self-acceptance and ultimately shows Mac to be happy with where he is, which makes it so confusing as to why Mac overdosed when he was seemingly in a great place.

Mac’s death was a heavy hit to the Hip-Hop community. Garnering responses from today’s established acts such as J. Cole, Tyler the Creator & Kendrick Lamar and also acts of yesterday such as Q-Tip, Pharrell & Snoop Dogg.

This was one of the biggest hits to Hip-Hop in the past 10 years. People’s responses to his death showed Mac had touched people, as many artists shared their personal experiences with Mac. His passing caused ScHoolboy Q to delay his album, being one of Mac’s close friends, he didn’t feel right releasing it.

Personally, Mac’s death was something that really hit home for me. I remember getting a text from my Dad the morning Mac died reading, “Mac Miller is dead? WTF?” After I read that I went online to confirm it. I then spent the rest of my day listening to Mac Miller albums and looking for more information following his death.

I had been so confused why Mac had overdosed, he had been very transparent throughout his music and following Swimming, he seemed he was at a point where he had battled his demons and reached a point where he was content. Vult

ure released a profile on Mac Miller on Sept. 6 titled, “The Perfectionist Mac Miller is finally making the music he’s always wanted to make.” It’s an amazing piece which sort of eludes to the idea that Mac was doing better mentally and at a great spot musically. Again, this is a confusing point as to why Mac overdosed at a point where he seemed to be in a great spot.

Something clicked with me while researching and looking into Mac after his death. He wasn’t perfect. At the deepest point of Mac’s addiction in 2014, he would stay with Rick Rubin in Malibu to detox. He would stay with Rick every day before tapering off and becoming self sufficient. Mac reached a point to which he would only return following a relapse.

While Mac had seemed as if he had kicked his addiction after Swimming was released, he hadn’t. Mac wasn’t an addict putting on the facade of a sober man, he was getting better but experiencing setbacks. Mac’s overdose had been like those relapses which he had dealt with in the past. The only difference was that this time, the drugs had got the better of him.

So who was Mac Miller? Mac Miller wasn’t a saint. Mac Miller wasn’t the perfect man. Mac Miller made mistakes just like everyone else, but he tried to better himself, he helped people and he made things better simply with his presence. Who was Mac Miller? Mac Miller was an artist and that’s how he’ll live on, through his art. Rest in peace Mac Miller.

Mac Miller performing live in April of 2017 (Photo courtesy of Mac Miller’s Facebook)

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