Rest in Peace Mac Miller
a tribute to a legacy for a generation cut too short
Personally speaking, Mac Miller's recent death (9/7/18) was devastating, and I know I am not the only fan (let alone family and friends) who feels this way. His earlier mixtapes, K.I.D.S and Best Day Ever were released in 2010 and 2011 respectively, to put this into context of my life, I had just started my freshman year of high school the fall of 2010. An artist who I had been a fan of since his early days and being part of a cult following that grew into something much more substantial later on is something I would never give back, but it's also the part that makes this so upsetting. Mac's music got me through pivotal moments in my life, specifically ones that were more dark, sad, or in general difficult to get through. His music brought a sense of comfort when there was none, a feeling that you weren't alone when that's all it ever felt like. His debut album Blue Slide Park (2011) and mixtape Macadelic (2012) were pieces of work that especially spoke to me, probably because they were relevant to how I was feeling and what I was going through at the time.
Over time, Mac experimented more creating sounds that were nothing like his earlier work, his rapping improved, and respect from critics was finally starting to match up with his passion, precision and talent. Watching Movies with the Sound Off dropped in 2014, the same year I was entering college. While there were still moments of dark introspectiveness, the album as a whole was more upbeat than previous works. There was a shift in how he operated, more precise in his work but also more daring, willing to risk good reviews in order for artistic liberty refusing to be placed in a box by critics. Then, in 2016 The Divine Feminine came out, an album full of love influenced by longtime girlfriend Nomi Leasure (which some mistakenly think is about Ariana Grande, I promise, it's not). Coincidentally, I had begun the most serious relationship I have been in (and currently still am) during this time, so the album was fitting with how my own life was moving.
It was obvious that Miller was in a place of respect, still restless and experimenting, but the first time he seemed comfortable in who he was in the public eye. A little over a month ago in August 2018, Miller released Swimming, and explained during an interview with Rolling Stone that he was more interested in making art that functions as a timestamp for periods in his life compared to churning out hit after hit.
While Mac's issues with depression and substance abuse is no secret, it had finally seemed like he was starting to come out the other side. His drug use began to really spiral after the release of his first album, to which he credited Rick Rubin to saving his life and helping him get back to sobriety around 2015. And even though he was never fully sober after that, he did say he believed in moderation in everything and that going clean 100% was never the goal. In a profile with Grantland during this time, Mac seemed aware of his struggle and recognized it was something he was still dealing with but that he's in a place of wanting to have a great time every day and didn't feel bad about that. More recently, in an article published by Vulture the night before he passed, he explained that he feels he lives in a constant shadow of being questioned about his well being, especially since his music involves drug use. But he went on to explain that his music mirrors his life, so during darker times, his music tends to be more dark. One of the saddest parts in reading this profile has to do with the title, "The Perfectionist Mac Miller is Finally Making the Music He's Always Wanted to Make." It points to place of peace within Mac, one that was cut short just as it was happening.
Mac Miller was more than just a rapper, more than an artist, more than what people defined him as. His come up was during a time when music on the internet was more than just some kids messing around, it was a shift in the industry that inspired a generation of artists and fans alike. He was at the start of a new voice, a new era, not only in rap but in the independent genre of music. He helped pave the way for artists like him, ones that weren't fortunate enough to get a record deal, but talented enough to sustain a fan base and create a career for themselves. He became the voice of generation for so many kids his age and grew with them, both literally and artistically. It's always painful when someone great who inspired so many passes, but that loss seems to cut deeper when that person was just in the midst of being great, leaving behind a legacy unfinished. Rest in peace Mac Miller, and thank you for all you left behind.