By Jared Prenda
“No matter where life takes me, find me with a smile/ Pursuit to be happy, only laughing like a child.” This quote from Mac Miller, born Malcolm James McCormick, from his song The Best Day Ever is fitting to describe his life. Miller passed away on Friday, September 7 at the age of 26 of an apparent overdose, but left a legacy that would define a generation.
Miller first rose to prominence in 2010 when he dropped his sound defining mixtape K.I.D.S. (Kickin’ Incredibly Dope Shit). This album introduced many kids to rap and began building his army of undying fans. A year later he dropped another mixtape Best Day Ever which contained his biggest hit “Donald Trump,” which went RIAA platinum, and the mixtape has been downloaded over 1,000,000 times. His debut album, Blue Side Park which also debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 Chart, went RIAA certified Gold in the US and Canada, and earned the Pittsburgh native one of the eleven coveted spots on the XXL Freshman List.
Beyond this Miller’s music was a popular soundtrack of many high school experiences, including mine. Before transitioning to heavier materials such as his depression and battles with substance abuse Miller rapped and acted like the carefree individual he was, speaking heavily on partying and getting rich. He spoke to his audience as if they were friends and made music that related to the battle of loneliness that many face including himself.
Miller would go on to release four more albums before his death, all achieving both critical and commercial acclaim. His sophomore album, Watching Movies with The Sound Off debuted at three on the Billboard list, while GO:OD AM released in 2015 and debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 with the hit single “Weekend” featuring Miguel going RIAA Platinum. His two follow ups, The Divine Feminine and Swimming each charted in the top five of the Billboard list with the latter, releasing only a month before the rappers death. Swimming is currently the number one album on the streaming service Apple Music.
When his death was announced, Twitter was filled with millions of fans mourning the rapper’s death as if they had lost a friend. A vigil was held at the Blue Slide Park near Miller’s childhood home where thousands of fans come to pay homage to their lost idol.
The rapper had recently been battling with his depression, resulting in a May DUI where he crashed his car and fled the scene before turning himself over to authorities. This came weeks after he and long time girlfriend Ariana Grande broke up and she announced her engagement to SNL star Pete Davidson only 2 weeks later.
Many contemporaries have paid tribute to their fallen friend. Future shouted out Miller’s name before his performance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole both became physically emotional on stage at their own shows when speaking on their friend. Even music icon Sir Elton John dedicated his performance in Pennsylvania to Miller.
Despite all this, a quote from actor, writer, singer and rapper Donald Glover perfectly described what Miller meant to his friends and his fans.
“And we should be allowed to be sad about that. Like my heart was broken… and I feel good about being sad, because it tells me that he was special, that I had a special moment…” Glover stated. “Everybody deserves that, everybody in this room.”