By Zach Colten
Summer 2011 – a young, upcoming rapper posts a music video. It begins with a home video clip showing an energetic, laughing toddler attempting to sing and dance along to “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang. The kid’s funk factor is off the charts, and you can tell he is having the time of his life. The video then fades into a shot of a more recognizable 19-year-old Mac Miller, the subject of the previous clip.
Miller proceeds to rap his classic frat-rap era anthem, “Best Day Ever.” The beat is smooth, easy to listen to, and Mac’s signature charisma and undeniable flow and delivery help to secure his spot among that year’s coveted XXL Freshman class – where he poses cheekily next to a cool, calm and collected Kendrick Lamar.
This spotlight would give the rising artist more notoriety in the rap industry, and he began touring and creating his debut studio album “Blue Slide Park,” which was released in November 2011.
From there, it was only up for the budding superstar. More tours, festivals, and albums with a
constantly evolving sound that was uniquely Mac’s. However, there was something special about his come-up. Where other artists would drip in flash and pose for cameras, Miller always kept a light, hilarious, humble energy around him that kept him down to Earth.
In 2015, the rapper moved from Los Angeles back to his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to finish his album, “GO:OD AM.” The move was also partly due to an increasingly toxic drug use situation. Mac’s awareness of this problem, along with the revived commercial success of “GO:OD AM,” led Miller to move yet again, this time to New York City, where he crafted his next album, “The Divine Feminine,” which was released in September 2016.
One of the strongest features of this album was the outpouring of love and adoration he showed for his girlfriend at the time, Ariana Grande. His tone on the project is one of clarity and resolve to be a better man in the future.
Over the years, while Mac always continued to put out stellar content, becoming one of the most understated rappers of his generation, he also struggled internally with depression and a severe drug addiction. Tragically, the latter would take his life on Sept. 7, 2018.
In a recent episode of Peter Rosenberg’s hip-hop talk show “Open Late,” several artists reached out to share their memories of Mac, and all of them mention how he was more than an artist to them – he was a true friend. Ty Dolla $ign refers to the rapper as his “brother.”
My memory of Mac revolves around his music, first and foremost, but also his personality. There was always something so goofy about Mac I could relate to, and he had an unmistakable “cool” factor I wished to aspire to.
I couldn’t be more sure that Mac’s impact will reverberate long after his untimely death. His words will live on through his music, interviews, pictures, and videos. His spirit will live on in memory, and my life will be forever changed for having been a fan of one of the greatest of all time, Mac Miller.