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Mac Miller Is Trying to Keep Swimming

What the Pittsburgh MC's Newest Project Tells Us About His Mental State

Courtesy of Vogue

Mac Miller is of a different breed. His debut single "Knock Knock" was released 9 years ago and since then he has transformed from being a Fratboy Rapper to being one of the more creative MC's in the game today, as evident in his last 3 projects GO:OD AM, the divine feminine, and Swimming

I have heard the criticism that Mac's vocals are boring, but it's in line with what he portrays, he's authentic the vocals just don't have the flash that listeners expect from music today. What makes these projects so special is the genuine feeling that on the other side of the song is Mac telling his truth in a time when larger than life personalities are the only ones that are able to sell... it's a nice change.

Mac's State of Mind

Swimming is the first project after his whirlwind love with singer Ariana Grande who the divine feminine, his last project, seem to be heavily influenced by. It starts off with the song "Come Back to Earth" which is about him being unable to be present and thinking about all the negative thoughts in his head. 

As someone who has had this problem for the majority of their 19-year life, "Come Back to Earth" hit me hard because self-awareness and being emotionally open are things that most 16-30-year-old men struggle with. What Mac preaches is that self-honesty and isolation is a dangerous and unnecessary pain. The lines "I just need a way out of my head" and "What I won't tell you/I'll prolly never even tell myself" come from a place that is tired of feeling pain. The weight of being alone without anyone to support you can become unnoticeable if not addressed and I believe this is Mac trying to address that weight.

"Self Care" addresses where he's at mentally in terms of his previous relationship with Ariana Grande and past shortcomings. Mac's popularity peaked during his relationship with Grande and he has since been out of the spotlight, a role he addresses with the line 'You can find me, I ain't hiding". 

Mac was also officially charged with a DUI on August 22 after crashing his G Wagon in May 2018. With the lack of coverage on his album and his DUI, it seems that Mac is slipping back to the place he once was, forgotten.

Hopefully, Mac is acknowledging that being self-aware, open and taking care of himself first will lead to happiness, NOT drugs, alcohol and fame. Mac knows that one day he won't be in the spotlight anymore so it seems like he is doing what most people in his situation should do and appreciate what they have.

Peaceful Waters

At the start of the album, we can feel Mac's pain on the song "Hurt Feelings," produced by J. Cole. He references feeling like he has an internal mission that puts a tremendous amount of weight on his shoulders, so much so that he is barely staying afloat mentally. This song is about his internal anguish and his inability to find out who he is supposed to be. He doesn't want to give in to his vices because he has to have a greater purpose. 

As the album progresses Mac is working through these ideas and it culminates in the song "2009" where it seems he is able to put it all together and come to peace with who he was, is and will be. On "2009," Mac reminisces about before he got his big break with his mixtape "K.I.D.S" in 2009. 

Looking back Mac doesn't seem to regret what he has done in his life because he wouldn't be who he is today. There is a universe where Mac ends up being a one-hit wonder after "Knock Knock," but his experiences have allowed him to evolve into the rap outsider (if you will) he is today. The questions of "Who am I going to be?" and "Why is this happening to me?" are gone. He has an idea of what the future hold and just hopes that he can find happiness.

Low Tide

Mac's manager, Christian Clancy, is the same person that helped guide Odd Future to their peak and is trying to keep Mac focused so hopefully he can become popular for the same reasons that he was popular at the start of his career. not because of relationships but because of his music.

Hopefully, this leads to a change in his habits because Mac Miller is one of the people that I think has genuine potential to help people figure out how to get out of the mental ruts they are stuck in. It seems like more than ever 16-30-year-old men are unable to cope with the terms of their life. Our culture is filled with posturing, a lack of self-awareness and a lack of empathy. 

National mental health has either gotten worse or it is just coming to the forefront more than ever before, but either way, it's a problem we as a society need to find a way to curb or fix. I truly believe that we will lose out on consuming the works of some of the greatest artists of our generation because they are unable to cope with the pressure that we put on young adults.

Telling everyone their special just puts them in danger. Not everyone is special and not everyone needs to save the world or write a quadruple platinum album. The root of sadness is not living up to the inflated expectations of yourself that were given to you by someone else. People need to come back to earth and become self-aware of who you are, not what everyone thinks you should or could be. There is no lost potential if you meet your goal

 (Here is his NPR Tiny Desk Concert

You can contact me on Twitter @amos_calder

I also have a podcast about the Overwatch league called Broverwatch on YouTube and most podcast platforms.

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