What Mac Miller And His Music Meant To Me
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What Mac Miller And His Music Meant To Me

It's been almost a month since the rapper's death, and I finally was able to gather my thoughts about someone I'd been listening to since the early days of high school.

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What Mac Miller And His Music Meant To Me

I remember the first Mac Miller song I ever heard. It was off his 2010 mixtape, his first project, "K.I.D.S." (Kickin' Incredibly Dope S-t). That song was "Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza," and I haven't stopped listening ever since.

I heard the news while I was at the rec, and I won't forget the pit in my stomach that came when I read the headlines. Malcolm James McCormick, better known as Mac Miller, passed away from a drug overdose.

I was shocked. I had just watched Mac's Instagram story the day before. He just tweeted about how he wanted to go on tour. There had been numerous articles written about him in the past couple months about his new album, one that was published the day before his death. It didn't make sense to me that someone so young and so full of life could be gone this quickly.

I've been listening to Mac since freshman year of high school when he dropped his mixtape, 'Best Day Ever.' Songs like the titular "Best Day Ever," "Get Up," "Donald Trump," "Oy Vey," "Wear My Hat," "Down the Rabbit Hole" and "Keep Floatin" featuring Wiz Khalifa were anthems for my pre-pubescent 14 year old self. I even bought a goofy Thumbs Up t-shirt that's still hanging in my closet.

From there I went back and listened to "K.I.D.S." and fell in love with that mixtape. Songs like "Outside," "Nikes on My Feet," "Senior Skip Day," "Traffic in the Sky," and "Knock Knock" got me even deeper into digging Mac's raps. The guy's style was evident, either from the classic kicks he had on, to the snapbacks or oversized, colorful clothing that he made an early staple in his wardrobe, he was easy to want to imitate. Couple that with his rhymes about girls, smoking, drinking, and general partying, it just made sense that high schoolers would be interested in his music, much in the same vein as Wiz and "Rolling Papers."

He then dropped the critically panned 'Blue Slide Park,' which was another album that was instrumental in my early high school life. I loved the songs "Party on Fifth Ave," "Of the Soul," and "Missed Calls" and all three had dope music videos. Mac had a cool kid swagger and easy charm that made everyone want to listen to him back in the day. He was one of the most popular rappers among kids my age, partially because he basically was a kid my age. He had gone through a lot of the same things that most high schoolers had experienced which made him more relatable to us.

After that, Mac released what I think is his most underappreciated piece of work, "Watching Movies with the Sound Off." "Avian," "S.D.S.," "Gees" featuring ScHoolboy Q, "I Am Who Am (Killin' Time)" featuring Niki Randa, "Youforia," and "Claymation" were the songs that I was super into. This is where Mac started to deviate from his party raps, and delve into subjects that were a little bit more complex. The music became less upbeat and took on a darker context. The album often gets overlooked for his most recent work or his oldest work, but this is where Mac Miller truly became one of my favorite artists. As I was going through changes the older I got, Mac was making changes in his life as well.

By the time I got to college, I was still listening to Mac, just not as frequently as I used to. He came out with "GO:OD AM," the album that I listened to the least while I was in my fall semester of freshman year at Mizzou. The album featured hit songs such as "Brand Name," "100 Grandkids" and "Weekend" featuring Miguel. I didn't fully appreciate the album when it first came out, but re-listened to it a year later and I really enjoyed it more the second time through. I loved cuts like "Time Flies" featuring Lil B, "ROS" and my personal favorite, "Two Matches" featuring Ab-Soul.

After "GO:OD AM," Mac began dating Ariana Grande around the fall of 2016. He went on to release "The Divine Feminine," which some have called a love project dedicated to Grande. This project was a far cry from any of the work that Mac had done previously, as he was crooning about love and his new relationship. He was bubbly on this album, and had soulful features from Ty Dolla $ign, Anderson .Paak, Kendrick Lamar and Grande herself. "Dang!" stands out as the hit from the album, with an incredible video and .Paak and Mac combining for a stellar pair. It's also tough to ignore "My Favorite Part," as Mac and Grande's chemistry is evident.

For his final album, Mac released the incredible "Swimming." I loved it the first time I listened to it, and in the time since he passed away, I have fallen even further in love with this album. "Small Worlds," "Come Back to Earth," "Hurt Feelings," "What's the Use," "Self Care," "Ladders," "Conversation Pt. 1," "Jet Fuel" and "2009" are all top notch works. The album has a cohesive feel and flows well. Mac actually sings a bit more than he raps on this one, and shows just how far he's come since "K.I.D.S." But as he was moving further away from his high school music and moving into music that was much deeper, he was also fighting a painful battle with addiction.

Mac's drug abuse is well documented. His lifestyle of partying was part of what made him cool to a lot of people my age. He used drugs to the point of addiction, however, and it would be awhile before his fans realized that he was having serious problems. Weed and alcohol were always part of the equation with Mac, as it is with much of our generation, but he eventually got pulled into some harder drugs, such as lean, codeine-based cough syrup.

"It started by me just sitting inside all day. And then it's like, then you get bored. Then you're like, 'I could just be high and have a whole adventure in this room,'" Mac told the music magazine Fader in a short documentary released in 2016. "It f-s you up when you have a bunch of money because you try a drug, you like it, then you buy a lot of it. I went through about everything."

Mac elaborates that all his albums are drug-fueled, but that doesn't necessarily take away from them. "Are these albums that I have in the cut all drug induced albums? Definitely. Are they great? Definitely. You know, I'm not going to take anything away from the s-t that I went through to make these albums."

This creates a dilemma for fans who are mortified over the rapper's overdose. Although his problems of drug abuse took his life, he was producing fantastic work while he was in the struggle of drug addiction. It's hard to reconcile, but it is the life that many rappers choose to live. The rap world today is one that's coated in lean, surrounded by tour buses and hotel rooms filled with pot, clubs with endless amounts of bottle service and full of pill popping rappers under 25 with too much money to spend. The genre would basically not exist today if you removed drug related lyrics from these songs. In a genre that is so obsessed with drug culture, how are you supposed to feel when one of rap's most beloved figures passes away from that exact reason?

It's hard to come away with definitive feelings. It's just a shame that one of the most popular rappers in the world was taken far before he needed to leave. He had plenty left to give, and I looked forward to continuing on his journey with him. I'd been there when he was the goofy kid rocking a snapback and rapping about parties and girls, I was there when he was morphing into a bonafide artist with a totally different style, and I was there for everything in between. I'll remember him as an artist that got a lot of people, myself included, through some tough times. He made the world a brighter place, and we could certainly use more people like that. His music has been a constant in life since I was 14 years old, and I can't imagine growing up without it. His legacy and legend will live on in my life, and the lives of millions of others that his music touched. Here's to you Mac, and hope you've got your thumbs up wherever you're at.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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