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Why We Need to Remember Mac Miller

With the sudden and devastating news of 26-year-old rapper Mac Miller's death, the media seems to focus on the end of the young star's life. Pushing negatives aside, lets take time to explore the life of Mac Miller.

(Background image: RTE)

On November 8, 2011, the debut rap album of a rising 19 year old star was released to the public. By the name Blue Slide Park, the album gained impressive success after having peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, the US Top Rap Albums chart and the US Independent Albums chart. As well as soaring through the ranks, the artist’s work also recently certified gold in both Canada and the US, meaning upwards of half a million units have been purchased by consumers.

Behind the mercantile success of Blue Slide Park was youthful, brown hair, blue eyes, Pittsburgh teen Mac Miller. With Miller not being the stereotypical image of a rapper—being a Caucasian, Jewish and young looking 19-year-old—consumers had now found another rapper that could relate to even more people as he didn’t fit the expectation of such an artist. Although up for debate, in a time when causal “minor” racism was only just being recognised as wrong, people would think, but not often vocalise, that rap was for black people. Seeing another white man, other than the arguably most popular modern white rapper at the time: Eminem, on the rap scene opened a few more doors and open the minds for some.

Commercial success was definite. However, criticism was practically rampant.

Mac Miller's debut album: "Blue Slide Park"

Sales and numbers proved Miller successful but, critics seemed to take a fairly negative and harsh standpoint on his music with feedback like: “the Pittsburgh rapper is mostly just a crushingly bland and intolerable version of Wiz Khalifa”; “His art is 144,487 times less remarkable than his first week sales numbers would have you believe”; “the actual words coming out of his mouth sound like they were brainstormed by a bunch of kids idling in an eighth-grade English class.”

Comments regarding the music and the actual sales of it did seem to contradict one another, so was Mac Miller a victim of the publics jealousy or unwarranted early success?

Miller continued into his career but not before reflecting on the comments of his criticisers. Falling into the tempting trap of reading the negative responses, the young and impressionable rapper was affected by the words that had already began to sink in. In a loss of ways to react, Miller retaliated in rage and turned to lean (a liquid combination of cough medicine, soft drinks and hard candy/sweets) and seclusion.

Miller says that, “A lot of the reviews were more on me as a person," which is hard to argue with after him being branded a “frat rapper” for going on a US tour that took place in some colleges and relentlessly, in a demeaning manner, called a “kid” and “child”.

"To be honest, that was even worse. You’re 19, you’re so excited to put out your first album, you put it out—and no one has any respect for you or for what you did."

The criticism and stress from so much disapproval turned his recreational use of lean into a severe addiction. Millers usage got so heavy that, “My friends couldn’t even look at me the same. I was lost." Though, he turned around his addiction of a long year and bravely climbed his way out of this period of depression in November of 2012. Things began seemed to be looking up for Mac Miller in 2013.

On February 26, 2013, Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family's first episode was released. This MTV series was a TV show made to chronicle the journey of Mac Miller and his four closest friends from his hometown in Pittsburgh, while he recorded his second album. The show displayed the life of a rapper in a very realistic way and fans of Miller were happy to get to know him on a more personal level. MTV renewed the series for a second season in the following year. In the climax of the reality series, as the premise of the show stated, Mac Millers second album was released.

Now often named, alongside his fourth, the best album of Miller’s career, Watching Movies with the Sound Off was released on June 18, 2013 (the album title was inspired by when Miller made music in his studio while watching films on mute). The album had a great reception and had accomplished a lot for a relatively new artist.

TV Series "Mac Miller & The Most Dope Family" (Left)

Watching Movies with the Sound Off (Right)

A portion of the success of the album can be attributed to the validation from other famous artists that featured on certain tracks, guest appearances included: Earl Sweatshirt, Ab-Soul, Action Bronson, Schoolboy Q, Jay Electronica, Tyler the Creator, Loaded Lux, Vinny Radio and Niki Randa.

Complex ranked the cover at number 21 on their list of best album covers of 2013 and ranked the album number 12 on their list of the 50 best albums of 2013. The album was named a runner-up for Album of the Year at the 2013 HipHopDX Year End Awards and one of the top 25 albums of 2013; number 19 in the 20 best hip hop albums of the year by Rolling Stone and number 14 in the best albums of 2013 by XXL.

In its first week of release, Watching Movies with the Sound Off sold 102,000 copies in the US. As well, it peaked on the US Billboard 200 at number 3; on US Independent Albums at number 1; US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums at number 3; US Top Rap Albums at number 3 and US Top Independent Albums at number 10.

On July 28, 2016, Miller announced his fourth album The Divine Feminine which was released on September 16th, 2016. It holds his highest ranking single and its first track was eventually certified gold. Many will remember this album as his most emotional album, being rather love focused. Despite the popular interpretation, according to Miller the album was not supposed to be romantic, but rather about learning from the women in his life and what those experiences mean to him. It was at this time rumours were spiralling about the relationship between Mac Miller and popular American singer/songwriter Ariana Grande.

Mac Miller and Ariana Grande at a 2016 awards show (FilmMagic/Getty)

The two had shown evidence of a close relationship since 2012 from twitter conversations and trips to Disneyland to hanging out with the same friends and kissing in music videos. In late 2013, a collaboration between them was released with a video which featured them kissing- this is when fans began to take rumours more seriously. The Divine Feminine track called "My Favorite Part," features Grande and is supposedly about how much love they have for one another and they’re “obsession” with each other. It hosts lyrics like: “You in my dreams, that’s why I sleep all the time” and “Just to hear you say I love you, just to touch you”.

It is also believed the track “Cinderella,” featuring Ty Dolla Sign, on the same album was about Miller’s love for Grande too as it features many explicit lines and sightings of the two together were decidedly frequent.

The couple announced their relationship on Instagram in 2016 with a post of them hugging on the kitchen floor with the caption “Baabyyy.”

In May 2017, a tragedy that is now known about all over the world occurred when a suicide bomber killed multiple fans of Grande’s while her concert was ending at Manchester Arena. Miller quickly became Grande’s emotional support following the catastrophe. During her One Love Manchester concert to commemorate the lives lost at her concert and bring awareness to the seriousness of terrorism, he joined her on stage for their collaboration “The Way” and his own song “Dang!”

After the confirmation of their relationship, the couple were rarely seen together. Later it was found out there were some problems in their partnership.

In May 2018, Grande announced their split. In an Instagram story, alongside photos of her and Miller, she stated: “This is one of my best friends in the whole world and favourite people on the planet. I respect and adore him endlessly and am grateful to have him in my life in any form, at all times regardless of how our relationship changes or what the universe holds for each of us.” The last time Miller publicly spoke about Grande in July, he stated: “I was in love with somebody. We were together for two years. We worked through good times, bad times, stress and everything else. And then it came to an end and we both moved on. And it’s that simple.”

Ariana Grande posted on social media informing fans of her break up with ex-boyfriend Mac Miller in May 2018

Scarily, within the same month that he and Grande broke up, Miller was arrested.

Miller was driving his 2016 G-Wagon in the San Fernando Valley in the early hours of the morning of 17th May 2018 when, he hit and knocked down a power pole.

Mac and his two passengers ran away from the scene while an eyewitness called police and informed them on the direction Miller had escaped. When police officers had arrived at the scene of the crash, they had run the registration plates. From that, they obtained Millers address and went to his home where he confessed to driving drunk and fleeing the scene. Police found he had a reading of higher than 0.08 on his body alcohol concentration test.

Miller was arrested and jailed with a bail set at $15k.

More recently, Miller was soon to start his eighth tour as a headlining act on October 27, 2018. Just seven weeks before the tour was to begin, on September 6, Miller tweeted, "I just wanna go on tour," and that he wanted the concert to have "started tomorrow." On September 7, 2018, only a day after having expressed his excitement for starting his “The Swimming Tour” tour for his latest album, Miller was reported to have passed away.

Mac Miller died at the early age of 26.

While the cause of death has yet to be confirmed, the first reports of sudden news stated that the star died on September 7, 2018 of an apparent overdose on lean- a substance he had struggled with just six years ago. On the same day he was set to shoot his new music video with friend, Ben Baller.

Condolences and words of support for family and friends flooded social media and news outlets.

Miller’s family stated: "Malcolm McCormick, known and adored by fans as Mac Miller, has tragically passed away at the age of 26," and "He was a bright light in this world for his family, friends and fans. Thank you for your prayers. Please respect our privacy. There are no further details as to the cause of his death at this time."

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