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Music has always been a healthy dose of vitamins, nutrients, and the freshest sip of water quenching thirst I’ll ever get. I wake up every day wondering if I’ll hear a new song that’ll catch my attention or become my new found obsession... or possibly change my life forever. I start my day off with a proper playlist to begin the day on the right note. It's like the equivalent of a daily morning prayer for me.
When I first heard about Mac Miller, I was 14 and listening to “Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza” which definitely was a “work of art... I ain’t talkin’ Mona Lisa.” Not only did I fall in love with the ironically relatable lyrics, but also with Mac’s adorable, contagious smile and vigorous, genuine hype spat in every verse, emphasized in every lyric and felt with every beat. This guy had me at the very first melody.
In a way, Mac was my crush, my dirty little secret, my companion during long commutes, my dream date to the prom, my shoulder to cry on, and someone to have in the background while I sparked up my first joint. Mac resonated with a lot of hip hop fanatics because he was very raw and very real in his music touching about drug use, experimentation, abuse, and mental illness; but also talking about the joys of achieving success, falling in love, that first flirtation and anticipation before love reigns in, and chillin’ with good ol’ friends “smoking herb and making music.”
The news of Mac Miller’s death on Friday came at me very randomly, abruptly, and unexpectedly. Like with any loss, I was in denial for a good three minutes, shaking my head and uncomfortably snickering. A wave of disbelief swept over me as I gathered my thoughts, my questions, and tried to subtly cover my tears. This could not be real. We hear of celebrities and musicians overdose all the time. Maybe it's fake news? Maybe it's a sick rumor perpetuated by someone who likes to tamper with fate? But even cats have nine lives.
Yes, I cried over the death of a rapper and not for the likes or my friends' “validation” at my eccentric music taste on social media. Imagine seeing someone every single day, hanging out and then one day coming to terms with the fact that you may never see or hear from them ever again. I’ve seen Mac transition from the-boy-next-door skater, chill high school kid, chillin’ with his friends at Blue Slide Park to a sophisticated, serious, experienced and respected hip hop legend. He grew up with me speaking to me through his music, we both graduated high school a couple years apart from each other and both took the music industry by storm by 18... in different areas, of course.
Mac Miller was inside my headphones at the beginning of every morning and at the end of the day while I put my YouTube playlist on shuffle. So... having to accept the fact that I will never hear any of his new tracks or hear about another album ever again leaves a hollow hole in my chest.
It wasn’t until the news of his death that I had started to really hear what he was saying. While Mac’s personality of a happy, slightly stoned, gonna-have-it-all go-getter plays a vital role in his art, some lyrics were dark.
In the “Self-Care” music video, he was locked in a coffin, buried in a grave, carving his way out by engraving the Latin phrase “Memento Mori” which translates to “Remember, You Will Die.” He makes his way out of the grave, climbs to the top of the dirt pile and spits how “I got all the time in the world, so for now I’m just chillin’, plus I know it’s a beautiful feeling in [oblivion].” No matter how this may be perceived, it was almost as if Mac was happy to be in the dark about his demons. After all, ignorance is bliss, right?
However, it’s not nearly as concerning as the part of a potential OD and the outcome in “Perfect Circle” where Mac predicts
“I’m speedin' with a blindfold on and won’t be long ‘til they watching me crash, And they don’t wanna see that, They don’t want me to OD and have to talk to my mother, Telling her they could have done more to help me, And she’ll be crying saying that she’ll do anything to have me back, All the nights I’m losing sleep, it was all a dream, There was a time that I believed that, But white lines be numbing them dark times, Them pills that I’m popping, I need to man up, It’s a problem, I need a wake up
Before one morning I don’t wake up.”
This part has brought chills up and down my spine—and not the good kind. He was very self-aware of the path he was on and knew that this lifestyle that he was leading was going to end detrimentally—until it did. This is the first serious loss that I’m experiencing as a hip hop fanatic.
If there is anything to take away from the loss of one of the most dope rappers in the game, it’s that addiction affects people from all sides of the socio-economic spectrum and it’s not something that can be swept under the rug, shrugged off, or taken with a grain of salt. It’s a serious ongoing illness, but in order to fully conquer it, the person going through it needs to be open towards seeking help. That first step towards the healing process cannot be made by anyone else other than the addict--although they cannot do it alone. They're not weak for seeking help or looking for guidance. If anything, asking for help can be cathartic.
It’s like balance. You can’t take your first steps without a little bit of support in the beginning to hold your ground.
It's not enough to say, 'check up on your happy friends' and expect people to actually follow through with it.
I’ve lost friends to drug use and almost lost myself, but Mac’s music got me through the most vulnerable, scary, and potentially life-threatening moments of my life. I’m sure that all of us mourning fans would do anything to be the rock for Mac that Mac was for us. Some tragedies are inevitable no matter how hard we try to prevent them from happening.
Getting to know Mac through his music felt like "life couldn't get better" and indeed it was the best day ever. Rest easy, kid.