Malcolm McCormick, the Pittsburgh rapper known as Mac Miller, died at 26 on September 7 in his California home from a drug overdose. Miller offered music to the world that spoke to many, whether it was catchy party songs to sing along to, or songs dealing with deeper topics. The effect he had on his fans was evident as newsfeeds and timelines were occupied by photos of his face and endearing captions, explaining what he meant to the particular fan, and thanking him for creating the soundtrack to many current college kids’ high school years.
“He was an astute, intricate rapper; as a lyricist he was a classicist in an era that had largely turned away from that style. But he was also lighthearted. ‘Blue Slide Park,’ bounced from one jubilant song to the next in the party-rap tradition of the late 1980s and early ’90s,” a New York Times article says.
From the same article, Miller “had recently released his fifth full-length album, “Swimming,” which opened at number three on the Billboard album chart. An early internet success story, he topped the chart with his independent debut, “Blue Slide Park,” in 2011, the first indie album to do so in 16 years.”
Miller was an extremely talented artist who was valued by many, and he may have even been on his way to a new level of stardom if he hadn’t left us too soon. John Mayer stated in a tribute to his friend, “You gotta know that if you weren’t familiar with Mac Miller, you were about to be … Mac put in the work. He made his best album and formed the band that was weeks away from becoming a breakout live sensation. Believe me when I say that.”
A Vulture article described “Swimming,” saying, “Mac albums are rarely as contented in quietude as this one is. The songs lure listeners in with slow, delicate grooves and drop them off with a word about perseverance … From the wounded repose of “Come Back to Earth” (‘I just need a way out of my head’) to the tranquil, therapeutic “Self Care,” “Swimming” seems most concerned with quieting stress and seeking out lasting peace.”
Miller was open about his struggle with addiction to prescription opiate cough syrup, especially in his fifth and final album, and the depression that he faced along with it. His death is a tragic lost battle between sobriety and addiction.
On the day of his death and the week following, celebrities including J. Cole, Chance the Rapper and Wiz Khalifa, mourned a life lost too soon. Among these celebrities was singer Ariana Grande, Miller’s ex-girlfriend. Grande was bashed and blamed on social media for Miller’s death after their recent break up in May, before she posted her tribute to him.
“… I really can’t wrap my head around it. We talked about this. So many times. I’m so mad, I’m so sad I don’t know what to do. You were my dearest friend. For so long. Above anything else. I’m so sorry I couldn’t fix or take your pain away. I really wanted to. The kindest, sweetest soul with demons he never deserved. I hope you’re okay now …”
Frankie Grande, Ariana Grande’s half-brother, defended his sister in a post for his friend saying, “I am beyond heartbroken over Malcolm’s death. He was a good friend and was wonderful to my sister. He was the reason I went to the rehabilitation center where I was detoxed safely from all of the drugs alcohol and medications I was taking, when I couldn’t imagine living without them … I remember when I would get 30, 60, 90 days clean and Malcom would be there with a gift and a card and words of encouragement … telling me that he knew how hard getting sober is …”
Rest in peace to an artist whose legacy lives on through his lyrics he gave us to sing along with. “No matter where life takes me, find me with a smile, pursuit to be happy, only laughing like a child, I never thought life would be this sweet.” Thank you, Mac Miller, for growing up with us and providing us songs that transport us back in time to simpler high school days.