The Legacy of Mac Miller


On September 7, 2018, 26-year-old rapper, Mac Miller, died in his Los Angeles home, of an apparent drug overdose. Having rapped since he was fourteen years old, Miller, born Malcolm James McCormick, was a prominent and beloved figure in the rap genre. Rising to fame from his songs, “Donald Trump”, “Wear My Hat”, and “All Around the World”, Miller was known for his refusal to fit into a specific artistic box. Instead, Miller valued experimentation with his music, and often put this over guaranteed commercial success.

Throughout his career, Miller was publicly open about his struggle with substance abuse, and discussed in several interviews his reliance on lean – a combination of promethazine and codeine. However, Miller stated that he quit lean in 2012. But, after this years-long sobriety, he began to drink again, and was involved in a well-publicized DUI arrest in May of this year. Despite this, Miller released his final album, Swimming, in August, and it was his most critically acclaimed album to date. In fact, it marked a return to the commercial success that defined his early career. In this album, Miller had several lyrics that discussed his sobriety and DUI arrest.

Upon his death, many of Miller’s peers shared their memories and condolences through Twitter. “The man was too generous! He extended his home to all of us. Peace to the Miller family and the whole extended family. We hurtin,” tweeted Earl Sweatshirt, a good friend of Miller who worked on several songs with him. Chance the Rapper was also at a loss for words as he wrote how Miller helped launch his career. “Mac Miller took me on my second tour ever. But beyond helping me launch my career he was one of the sweetest guys I ever knew,” Chance tweeted. “Great man. I loved him for real. I’m completely broken. God bless him.”

Among the recollections of sweet memories and condolences, there was a common trend among the buzz of Miller’s death. Many media outlets and fans began to minimize Mac Miller’s success and career to a simple title: Ariana Grande’s Ex-Boyfriend. Having dated from August 2016 to May 2018, Miller and Grande were a powerful couple on the music scene, and when the two broke up this year, many speculated that Miller’s DUI and relapse with lean were due to the end of his relationship with Grande. Whether or not this is the case, the toxicity of displacing one’s career and making it so that they are completely defined by their significant other is prominent in Miller’s case.

What people need to acknowledge is that Mac Miller was a whole person with a successful career and thousands of fans before dating Ariana Grande. He did not gain his success because of his relationship, but worked for it and kept at it despite his own personal problems. With that being said, Miller should be commemorated for the impact his music had on thousands of people, not for a relationship.

Rest in Peace to Mac Miller, your legacy will forever be cherished in the hip-hop community.

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