Growing up with an artist is a strange phenomenon. You might never meet them in person, but it feels like you really know them through the songs they left behind. Sometimes you feel like they even know you; blasting their songs through your headphones during some of your most vulnerable moments, as if they were the ones there actually listening to you instead.
The sudden passing of Mac Miller is something that will linger around my heart for, well, probably ever. His footprint left on not only my life, but others as well, is greater than Shaq sized. You’re not supposed to be reading about 26-year-olds dying on the internet, let alone your idols. It feels as if a legacy was left unfinished. A story left unwritten. The only thing we can do, is, simply enjoy the chaptersleft behind for us that were beautifully inked into existence.
Mac was the first concert I went to without my parents. It was at The Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee. To this day it was one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen. His energy and aptitude for feeling the crowd were next level; he brought out a guitar and started doing a solo with it behind his head, and it was absolutely flooring. This was all the way back in the winter of 2011. Compared with what I’ve seen now, the growth is a marvelous feat. Mac was one of the best performers in music.
As much as I wanted to go see him on his Swimming tour, that time in Milwaukee will sadly be the only time I get to witness his greatness in person. Still, I consider myself lucky. It’s a night I’ll never forget.
Mac Miller was the soundtrack to my high school years. I was the kid with the “Most Dope” shirt and the Blue Slide Park hat. His songs are the soundtrack to so many of my memories. We would cruise to Mac on repeat and rap right along with him. During one summer we did this on the daily, and when school started, we’d do it after and on the weekends.
Why? At the time I probably would of told you it was because he was “dope” or something along those lines. Looking back I can see it’s much more than that. He was probably the most relatable rapper that my friends and I had ever encountered at that point in our lives. Mac was close to us in age and he rapped about things we wanted to hear about. Mac was a guy who just wanted to hang out with his friends, smoke some weed, and just have a good time. He was young and doing his own thing. He didn’t want to worry about the rest of the bullshit.
And that’s how we felt.
We were the kids he was singing about on “Another Night.” My friend Jared and I woke up one morning and had a “Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza” day. To us, Mac really was the most dope.
He started off doing what people called “frat rap,” but it wasn’t necessarily typical in that category either. Mac went more emotional than the others in that section of rap. Being young though, that was what I needed. It was fun.
Then we got older. And so did Mac.
His music evolved into something a lot of people wouldn’t have foreshadowed. Somehow the same kid who made “Donald Trump” would end his career making “Ladders.” It wasn’t all surprising, though. His love for production and using crafty instrumentation was always there. Even on “Knock Knock,” one of his earliest and more popular songs at the time, featured an old time summer sound. His love for singing was there too. While he probably didn’t consider himself an amazing vocalist, there’s a certain something to a Mac Miller-sung-hook. He literally breathes emotion into the beat; you can feel what he felt in those moments.
On “Life Ain’t Easy” he raps “Dear music you’re everything that I have now,” which is a clear indication of his passions. Mac really loved this music thing. He put so much time into his albums. He was the guy who brought Chance The Rapper on his second tour ever, and then did the same for a countless amount of others. Mac was at the forefront of using YouTube and being one of the earlier DIY rappers who created a successful model to follow in the 2010’s. He made other artists dare to dream.
Mac Miller didn’t just live and breathe music; he embodied what it’s all about.
His most recent album, Swimming, is not only one of my favorites of the year, but ever. It was always going to be remembered by me, regardless of the recent news. Now with Mac gone it hits even deeper.
To me, Mac has a discography filled with gold; a compilation cut much too short that I’ll treasure forever.
I’ve seen members of my family go through losing some of their most cherished artists. My cousin and David Bowie, my mom with Michael Jackson. In the coming days Mac is probably all I will play. It’s a thing hard to come to terms with, knowing there will be no new Mac Miller music. Possibly some unreleased tracks, a project, or maybe a couple features. The worst thing — we won’t get to live in the moment with him anymore. He stole the show in his videos, interviews, or whenever I saw him through a screen over these years. Mac was a beam of light and I truly feel for the people that knew him best.
And you know what? Maybe I did know Mac, and maybe he knew me, in some sort of strange way. He may be gone, but Mac will continue to help me when I need it most. I’m not sure I could ever properly return the favor.
One thing that I do know, for certain, is that I’ll be playing his music until my time swimming through life is finally up — with my thumb held high in the air.