A Year Without Mac: A Remembrance
Fans around the world mourn collectively today on the anniversary of the tragic passing of Mac Miller. After a long-documented struggle with mental health and drug addiction, Malcom McCormic fell victim to his disease by way of accidental overdose. While the dealer of the drugs is now being charged with his murder, nothing truly takes the sting away of losing a great music mind riding the peak of his prime.
While there is certainly tragedy to be felt and strong sorrow to emote, Mac Miller’s portfolio of work was honest, true, and above all, transparent. Fans gathered at Blue Slide Park in Mac’s hometown of Pittsburgh today to sing “Self Care”, in choir, celebrating the rappers life – the first single off his last album (“Swimming”), which has posthumously been awarded Platinum status by the RIAA. “Self Care” needs no explanation. “Swimming” is very much a walk across the line in the sand for Mac, with one side being a cry for help, and the other side being personal rehabilitation and triumph over his demons.
From lyrics on the opening track “Come Back to Earth”, Mac begins the hook with:
“My regrets look just like texts I shouldn't send
And I got neighbors, they're more like strangers
We could be friends
I just need a way out of my head
I'll do anything for a way out
Of my head…”
Before transitioning directly into:
“In my own way, this feel like living
Some alternate reality
And I was drowning, but now I'm swimming
Through stressful waters to relief…”
“Self Care” is no different, fully embodying the theme of the album. The song is split into two parts, as if to symbolize the hectic and muted deliriousness of mental illness and addiction, into finally, a calm and cathartic escape. The music video reinforces this feeling further; Beginning with homage to “Kill Bill” depicting Miller buried alive inside of a makeshift coffin. By the second act, Mac emerges in time and tune with the track. Unfortunately… much like Miller’s life, the rapper carves “Memento Mori” into the coffin, translating in Latin to: “Remember that you have to die”.
Before becoming a martyr for mental health and addiction in the rap community, Mac found his way to championing many sounds and styles in an ever-evolving rap meta. Starting off in his teens as an upbeat “Frat-Rapper” style artist, Miller made songs that appealed to masses while highlighting his creative wordplay. Never afraid to show a wide range of emotions, Mac’s first full length album “Blue Slide Park” swings from kickback anthems like “Party on Fifth Ave”, through self-indulgent and chip-on-shoulder hype songs as heard of “Smile Back”, before taking a dive into emotional heart-string-attackers like “Missed Calls”. Everything you could ask out of a debut studio album… Mac gave us. “Blue Slide Park” was the first indie studio album to chart at #1 on Billboard in the 2010 decade.
If you followed Mac after his meteoric initial success, you got to hear industry pleasing mixtapes like “Macadellic”, as well as experimental lyric heavy albums like “[…]Movies”, and “GO:OD AM”. Over these two albums, both certified Gold by RIAA, Mac shows off the full scope of what he is able to do through songwriting (Watching Movies), followed up with what he is able to lyrically (GO:OD AM). Meeting in the middle, Mac’s fourth studio work plays as a dedication to the love and lessons he’d been exposed to from the prominent women throughout his life. From his grandmother, to (at time) girlfriend Ariana Grande, Mac delivers on listenability, marketability, and vulnerability. “Cinderella” ft. Ty Dolla $ign is everything a mature (keyword) human emotion can convey in a rap form – also a two part track in it’s full length. It’s more adult than a mushy love track, and yet, more mature than a typical rap sex anthem (Looking at you “Some Cut”).
Through five albums and seven mixtapes, Mac left us with what is unfortunately a lifetime of work from the Pittsburgh native. And while “Swimming” may be considered his best work despite being his most tragic… we don’t have to fall back on tracks like “2009” to remember Mac by. Mac would probably want you to listen to your favorite “Mac Milli” song today. Whatever the track was that turned you onto his deep and broad understanding of music mixed with incredible one-of-a-kind lyricism.
If you’ve never heard a Mac Miller song in your life… I have a suggestion. Take a listen to one of his earliest tracks below. Listen to it today to pay respect to his life. Listen to it tomorrow when you wake up for work and need that inspiration to keep going. Listen to it when you’re sad. And most importantly, listen to it when you’ve had a great day and you need the perfect vibe.
“Brand Name” off Mac Miller’s third album “GO:OD AM” hears Mac rap:
“To everyone who sell me drugs
Don't mix it with that bullshit
I'm hoping not to join the twenty-seven club”
Mac Miller died on September 7th, 2018 at the tragically prime age of 26 in Studio City, California.