In memory of Mac.
On September 7th, 2018, the world lost a legend. Mac Miller passed away at the young age of 26 because of an apparent drug overdose. Mac was someone who always struggled with drug addiction (something that only was publicized postmortem). Mac Miller, in my opinion, was the last of a dying breed. He was one of the few remaining original artist who stuck to his original sound, and didn’t sell out to make money. I know this because I have always been a fan of Mac – I started listening to him in middle school like everybody else my age did and stuck with him through high school when his music “wasn’t cool.” Mac Miller, like lots of Hip-Hop artists
I was 13 the first time I heard his music blaring from the speakers. You have to remember though, this was before the times of streaming sites like Sound Cloud and Spotify, which has opened the door for independent artists to release their music. The only way to hear new music was to wait for it to be released on iTunes, or have it put on YouTube. This is where I first saw Mac.
I first discovered Mac with my friend Matt Paul, and it was his iconic song Donald Trump. It’s kind of eerie how Mac was able to predict the Don was going to be elected president way back then (obviously he didn’t – and actually had a lot to say against Trump, but were not getting into politics here). Its too long ago to remember how many times we listened to that on repeat before his parents yelled at us to turn it off, but it was at least a few hours. We loved it. We just loved how it put the whole room into a good mood – everyone would be off their feet and dancing to the beat. The song was played everywhere. It had blown up, and the name Mac Miller was known by everyone.
I continued to follow Mac with Blue Slide Park as I aged a few years, but then he stayed quiet (or “was I too old for Mac”). There did reach I time where kids my age, right around High School, didn’t vibe with Mac Miller as much. I think that’s because he reminded them of Middle school, and when they were younger and that was considered “lame,” or something. However, I, in secret, stuck with Mac. Right around this time is when he released “GO:OD AM,” and people started to remember the guy who always made them feel good. Who always put them in a better mood when they were feeling a little down.
Most recently, he released his album titled “Swimming.” Released on the exact same date as rap-superstar/icon Travis Scott’s album titled “Astroworld.” This prompted fans of music everywhere to take to social media, and “have some fun” at Mac’s expense. One tweet that got a lot of attention post-Mac’s death had the caption “Y’all hear somethin’?” Meaning, of course, that Mac Miller’s album did not have the same massive bass drops, and crazy, auto-tuned raps like Travis does. However, if you had paid attention to Mac’s album, you would have saw his problems. The tracklist has songs titled, “Self Care,” “Hurt Feelings,” and “What’s the use.” If you haven’t yet, I urge you to go and listen to his songs now and see how his fans failed him. We failed by not listening. I mean, come on people, could it have been more obvious. I am complicit in this act as well, do not think that I am trying to get out of it by any means.
Mac Miller was one of the last true original artists. He always stuck to his own sound, and never strayed toward what “pop-culture” music sounded like. He created his music purely from his soul. He never had ghostwriters writing his lyrics for his songs for him, and actually didn’t have other people making the beats to his song. Not many people are aware, but Mac was a self-taught musician, who could play the drums, piano, and guitar. He was a rapper first, record producer second, and above all that, a true artist. He was able to cope with his struggle with addiction through music, and rapping about it was his form of therapy. Rap was his meditation, really. We, his fans, just never gave him the appreciation and satisfaction he was asking for.
Unfortunately, the breed of original artists are dying out. I meant this figuratively before, but now I am speaking much more matter of factly. In the last 365 days, the world has suffered the heartbreaking losses of some of the truly most underappreciated talent the world had forgotten about or written off. Mac Miller, XXXTentacion, Avicii, and others all are gone. If you are a fan, family member, or friend of any of these artists – my heart goes out to you and your loved ones, I am sorry for your loss. We, their fans, will attempt to uphold their image and legacy through the only way we know how – to honor their music.
This raises the question of what does it truly mean to appreciate an artists music? I was faced with this particular dilemma after the passing of Mac Miller. As I found myself listening to his music on repeat following the days after his death, I noticed that I was listening to his raps, his lyrics, and truly understanding the words. It was like they were clear to me now, but a little too late. I had always sang a long to the words, but never paying close attention to the meaning behind them.
I think the only way to truly appreciate the music that artists create is to understand the message behind what they’re saying. We need to take these losses as a warning. As fans we need to do a better job truly appreciating the work that they produce, and understand its coming from their soul. They do the impossible, creating something out of nothing. They are releasing their soul into the world to be judged, and when we (their fans) need to recognize that that is not easy. From here on out, fans of music everywhere, I am challenging you to appreciate music as art. So, next time you have your favorite artist’s songs blasting through your speakers take the time to really listen to what they created, and I promise that you’ll grow to appreciate their music and music in general more. Don’t wait until its too late, like me.