By RANI CHOR
With a distinct throwback style that betrayed his young years, rapper and producer Mac Miller’s “Jet Fuel” propelled him to his ultimate fate.
An early internet story, Malcolm McCormick started his music career as a rapper in the music group The Ill Spoken before branching out in a solo career. In 2011, his first hit album Blue Slide Park, became the first independent album to top the billboard charts in 16 years. His seventh mixtape, Macadelic, arrived the next year, featuring appearances by big-time musicians Kendrick Lamar and Juicy J.
However, the success could not last for long without taking a toll on his well being. Miller began to rely on drugs to cope with stress, tension and the bouts of depression that followed tours and late night concert rehearsals.
A month after releasing his third major label album Swimming, the stress caught up to him. On September 7, Mac Miller passed away at just 26 years old due to an apparent overdose.
Although the suddenness of his passing has fans shocked, his death is more than just untimely. It serves as a reminder to upcoming artists to enter fame cautiously.
Like many other musicians, Miller’s music often served as a diary for his inner demons. His songs and albums chronicled his battle with depression and drug abuse, and he was not afraid to admit that personal experiences inspired some of his darkest lyrics. For example, in his song “Brand Name” he raps, “To everyone who sell me drugs… Don’t mix it with that b–, I’m hoping not to join the 27 Club.” ‘The 27 Club’ refers to an infamous list of musicians, artists and actors who died at age 27. Ironically, Miller often worried about premature death, and his struggle with sobriety was the reason that his fears came true. Ultimately, in spite of all the success, Miller’s fame led to his degradation.
Although Miller’s music conveyed dark motifs, his personality was generally cheerful and down to earth. He knew the consequences of having an addiction, and felt it was better to be part of the solution than the problem. According to a 2016 documentary titled: Stopped Making Excuses, Miller recognized that “overdosing is not cool,” and reflected on how he felt he lacked control over his career.
Additionally, as his musical career progressed and his health degraded, Miller never lost his musical ambition. His album The Divine Feminine starring his late girlfriend Ariana Grande peppered the audience with his soul-like vision of figuring out his life.
Starting as a Pittsburgh rapper and then becoming a sensation is no easy feat. To the general public, he was many things; an aspiring rapper, a drug addict and Ariana’s previous boyfriend. No matter what was said about him, Miller never lost his spirit. For any young artist, Miller’s story should be a lesson about fame and success. The best music comes from the soul, but in any case personal health should be prioritized first hand.
If Miller’s death could teach us anything, it would be that sobriety is a journey. Many musical artists of this generation have gone through the pressures of fame and through their music, have found their voice. Miller is no exception.
In an interview by Vulture a day before his death, Miller left us with these parting words; “The people that have the best chance of knowing me, that would like to, would just be by listening to my music.”