I feel like I grew up alongside you.
I was 16 when my best friend Patrick showed me The High Life in 2010 during our zero period Trig class. We were told to by Mr. Stuart to put the headphones away, but we just positioned ourselves to where he couldn’t see them.
I went home that day and downloaded your first two mixtapes on livemixtapes.com. K.I.D.S. was like a divine revelation to me.
I raided my dad’s closet for old snapbacks because of you. Some of them were hideous or had irreparably crinkled bills, but I asked my dad if I could have them all and he let me. I never cared for how you rocked them so precariously on the back of your head, but you’re Mac Miller so it was cool with me.
I listened to "Senior Skip Day" on Senior Ditch Day when my mom forced me to go to school.
I daydreamt I was chilling with you, smoking weed and eating yogurt.
I liked Best Day Ever but it wasn't what I had hoped for. My favorite song was "She Said". You had already started to blow up, and a week after BDE’s release, everyone at school was listening to it. I had kept your music to myself out of covetous pride and was dismayed that people had caught wind of you. It seems stupid now.
I knew you were corny at times. Even cringeworthy. But somehow it was still good. It was authentic. You had an undeniable passion for music and your positivity was sonically contagious. I reminded myself that you were young and dumb like me so I gladly, if not a bit sarcastically, rapped along to the corny bars.
I hated Blue Slide Park. Your first studio album sounded nothing like the Mac I knew. Some of the songs played on the radio and to me they sounded more like sing-alongs for high schoolers rather than music. Girls who didn’t like rap started wearing your concert tees. My 6th grade girlfriend (whom I really liked but never had the nerve to actually talk to) got your number after a show.
I still listened to your “old stuff” but didn’t have much hope for your future. I was starting to learn about the nature of the music industry and I suspected that BSP was more carefully contrived product rather than debut album. Another great artist derailed by the bureaucracy, I thought. Only cared about the money and fame.
You kept working tirelessly on your craft. You got into drugs around the same time.
You were entirely off my radar for three years. Seven mixtapes and an album came out and I couldn’t be bothered. I wasn’t friends with Patrick anymore. None of my other friends had much interest in you so it was easy to ignore your work. I would always be thankful for your first three mixtapes, though.
In 2014, a college friend whose musical taste I admired showed me “Diablo” off of Faces. I was astonished. You sampled John Coltrane. You looked much older and heavily worn down in the music video. Like you had been through a lot since I last checked in on you.
“The industry a lie/All the promises were hollow”
“How do the famous function? The A-list can’t be trusted/ I strong arm ‘em like I play the trumpet”
“No bitches in my circle, I’m the show you the commercial/ I been poppin’ like a kernel readin’ Justin Bieber’s journal/Treat you like a urinal”
I was a Mac Miller fan again. I had a lot to catch up on. And a lot to look forward to.
The day Swimming came out, I knew it was your magnum opus. I was in the midst of struggling to assemble my IKEA dresser in my first apartment. I would have saved a lot of time and frustration had I just saved my maiden listening until afterwards and focus on the task at hand, but that just wasn’t happening. I was anxious about moving into my own place and your music reassured me that it would all be okay.
The drawers on my dresser are slightly off-kilter but I don’t mind much.
You passed away today. I thought you had beat all your demons but for many drug addiction is a monster that can never truly be kicked. You were so happy during your Tiny Desk Concert on NPR. Your excitement was palpable when you tweeted about your upcoming tour. I was looking forward to seeing you perform for the first time. The friend I had been planning to go with had a work commitment come up but I didn’t mind the prospect of going alone.
You lived a lot during your 26 years. Much more than most people do in 75 I would bet. It still hurts though, knowing how much you meant to your family, friends, and countless fans like me who had never even met you.
A part of me thinks that much of the general public may have the wrong idea about Mac Miller, especially given the nature of his death. A large chunk of the mainstream fanbase he accumulated fell by the wayside in the years following Blue Slide Park. Many remember him as the snapback and backpack guy who made “Donald Trump” and then went off the deep end with drugs, as seen in the less-than-savory video in which a clearly fucked up Mac announces the release date of Watching Movies.
It makes me happy that these people are about to rediscover one of the richest discographies of the past decade, just as I did. It’s been so inspiring to see a kid just like me who “used to go to school, hang with friends, and play sports” blossom into an accomplished musician, genuinely decent and insanely cool guy who fiercely loved music, people, and life.
Rest easy Malcolm.