As you may have learned with the rest of the world on September 7, 2018, Rapper Mac Miller, born Malcolm McCormick passed away from an apparent drug overdose. It does not come as a surprise to his fans and supporters of his music that he had an embattled fight with substance abuse, as many of our favorite rappers do, both past, and present. As long as I can remember, drugs have been synonymous with Hip-Hop music.
Whether their choice of vice is Marijuana, Cocaine, Lean or even Heroin, most musician believes that these vices, the same ones that are killing them, are their superpowers. It takes them to a higher plane in order to “feel the music” and “see the music“. But like many other rappers, Mac’s music oftentimes served as a diary of his demons and bouts of sobriety. Using his songs and albums not only chronicles his personal experiences with depression but to help his fans who also dealt with drug abuse and despair. In his last interview with Vulture, Mac expressed that he does not want to only experience happiness nor sadness in his life. “I really wouldn’t want just happiness and I don’t want just sadness either. I don’t want to be depressed. He continues to explain what a day-to-day routine for him feels like. “I want to be able to have good days and bad days… I can’t imagine not waking up sometimes and being like, ‘I don’t feel like doing shit.’ And then having days where you wake up and you feel on top of the world.”
I switched the time zone, but what do I know? Spending nights hitchhikin’, where will I go? I could fly home with my eyes closed, But it be kinda hard to see, that’s no surprise though. – Mac Miller (Self-Care, Swimming, 2018)
It is safe to say that most public figures have a lot of pressure that they have to face on a daily basis. The pressure from the industry, pressure from their managers and publicists, label heads, record execs and pressure from the fans. But what about the pressure from family and friends? The weight of having to make everyone happy and content, whilst putting themselves last. Triggering the lack of self-love and self-appreciation that can force them to become depended on a substance that gives them a false sense of satisfaction. “A lot of times in my life I’ve put this pressure to hold myself to the standard of whatever I thought I was supposed to be, or how I was supposed to be perceived. And that creates pressure … It’s annoying to be out and have someone come up to me and think they know.”
During his last interview, it appeared that Mac had come to a realization of the realities of perception and just not giving a fuck. He acknowledged a sense of freedom that he felt by not caring about what people think, understanding that the opinion of him as a man and as a musician differs between people, but it doesn’t affect how he felt about himself. “I feel like the public perception of me varies on who you ask,” He started. “But there’s a bit of a freedom in knowing that people are going to think all types of shit, no matter what. It actually makes me less stressed about how my actions are perceived.” It’s true that during his career Mac Miller evolved into the artist we know him as today, “A musician who never stopped evolving,” The New Yorker labeled him. A musician who knew and understood the price that fame could cost. But despite this he didn’t let it change him, make his heart grow black and stop being uncompassionate towards others. His words reached the masses as an incomparable wordsmith and a lyrical empath (my own personal description) speaking to the youth who felt like he did, yet didn’t have the platform that he had.
The fact of the matter is, Mac Miller is now the missing piece of Hip-Hop. Yes, the music will go on and yes, the pain of losing him will become more and more bearable. But will there be anyone who will rap like him? Will there be anyone who articulates his struggles in the same distinctive way as Mac has? Youth was on his side, but it didn’t prevent the inevitable. The hurt and the pain of losing someone who has done all that they have could to prevent you from losing yourself is a hard pill to swallow. But if there is anything that Mac would want his fans to know and to do is to be good to one another and love each other and help each other in their time of need. He would want his fans to know that he is without pain and suffering and his wisdom will live through his music forever.