Remembering Mac Miller: There’s Mac Inside All Of Us
“You could have the world in the palm of your hands, you still might drop it.” — Mac Miller, ‘So It Goes’
It is often those in the most pain that try their best to bring happiness to everyone else.
It’s taken me some time to find these words. I try to find myself in my writing, to make sure that the words that I piece together are the most truthful depiction of my reality. Just as a musician’s goal is to move the crowd, or how the job of an artist is to offer a sanctuary of beauty to an ugly world, I hope that my expressions through writing is relatable in a way that either inspires, motivates, or helps to overcome. The songs of Mac Miller taught me to be more vulnerable in my words. He was an emotional guy who wasn’t afraid to peel back the layers as his career progressed, in fact, he ended up giving more of himself and showing us who he actually is.
For those who aren’t familiar with Mac Miller, for many of his fans his music was uplifting. He told us to follow our dreams, he brought us joy and touched on our pain. Nothing is ever all good and when the moments got dark, though it may have seemed like he was on the top of the world he was there fighting with us.
He brought words of aspiration, bar after bar felt like they were written for you. He wanted us to go after the unattainable, and at the very least, to change the world.
That’s what Mac did for us. I say us intentionally because he wasn’t an individualistic person which allowed his music to transcend boundaries, his spirit was all-encompassing.
His music made us feel like kindred spirits who are searching for meaning.
His songs served as our hymns.
Even though he had his demons, you can tell that he tried his best to uplift those around him. In a recent interview, Kendrick Lamar speaks on Mac’s legacy and how there wasn’t any misery loves company with him. Mac was always this soul of jubilance, filled with joy and enthusiasm, whose love for life was contagious.
It’s like we lost a homie, not someone that we didn’t know — in a way, it’s almost as if we personally knew him. In fact, we did know Mac Miller because he was a part of us. We shared the same experience of just being kids trying to find our own identity accompanied by the chaos that ensues from the blurred lines of who the world says you are and who you are fighting to become.
A month or two before his passing I had a conversation with a close friend and we both agreed that out of all the rappers in the industry, it is Mac who we would most want to hang out with for a day. He reminded you of your closest homie that brought joy to your world but also who you could kick the sh*t in the most carefree way.
After his death and learning more about his legacy from his closest peer, Mac was the connector. Through his love for music and his value of real relationships, he brought people together.
We, or at least I do, aspired to be that type of friend: carefree, genuine, and able to bring everyone together under a common goal.
In the music industry, Mac separated himself by being true to himself and his beliefs. His value that he placed on real relationships would help him earn the respect of most of his peers and it is reflected in the response that the industry has had from his death, which has been nothing but love and admiration.
From Elton John to Kendrick Lamar, his light shined bright in order to bring joy to those around him, even in the times when he was in his darkest places.
Even though he has passed, the legacy of Mac Miller lives through his music and reminds his fans to not give in to despair, “I don’t have to cry, leave it in the rear view.”
But if I were to tell you the truth, his death still doesn’t seem real and I don’t think it will ever resonate. I’ve been in this place of not sadness, but almost numbness. I’ve set up a roadblock not to feel any emotion because I fear the pain of realizing that he’s forever gone. Or as one of Mac’s closest friends details: “The cruelty of the world that takes someone as he’s finding happiness makes me question nearly everything.”
I’ve had a hard time finding words to write about Mac because you can’t write from numbness. To celebrate his creative genius, it only made sense to replicate his own selfless expression of all the emotions. He gave us a peek into his darkest places gave awareness of his demons — so that we could fight our own.
It may seem strange to some people to have this emotion and feeling for a celebrity — but it’s human connection. Music has this really powerful power to it; the vibrations touch your heart.
Human self-expression and connection is what drove Mac to tell his stories over wax, “I want my albums to be heard” he mentions in an interview.
In his last interview before his passing, Mac Miller speaks about his early career and being open about expression himself, “I also used to rap super openly about really dark shit. Because that’s what I was experiencing at the time. That’s fine, good, that’s life. It should be all the emotions.”
It was Mac Miller’s first mainstream mixtape, KIDS: Kicking Incredibly Dope Shit, that got me hooked. The tape starts with a monologue from the iconic movie KIDS and touches on the feelings of being young and living life for your dreams while holding onto whatever it is that you’re passionate about.
Instinctively, as a high school or college kid, you connected to the mixtape. Because like Mac, we were just kids with the aspirations of living life to the fullest. The theme songs, such as Kool-Aid and Frozen Pizza, were anthems because it was reflective, if not aspirational, of the lives we lived. We were his homies in the video — we were also Mac.
After his passing and listening to his songs from another perspective — I’ve realized that it’s as if each mixtape and album reflected a different stage or phase in our life journey’s.
“Every different project was just a state of mind I was in,” he says in an interview.
Each project was relatable — it’s as if we were going through it together.
KIDS is when we were carefree spirits not yet infected by the dread of the real world. Then we faced our own obstacles of growing up while fighting to find who we are and even succumbing to alcohol, drugs, and partying to wash out the pain which would be the backdrop to Faces. Then we grew up, and embraced our self-awakening to GO:OD AM. GO:OD AM, in particular, is a special moment because it’s when both Mac and myself found ourselves again. GO:OD AM was Mac Miller’s departure from sadness and transitioning into his better self. He moved from Los Angeles to New York, a move that I would also make and found myself blasting the tape as I walked around the city. It was a new beginning, as I started to find my personal happiness and self-confidence.
We both grew up and New York created the environment to do so, as moving to NYC is a rite of passage no matter how old you are.
When Divine Feminine was released it was a coming of age moment. Probably his most gorgeous album, and one that easily stands out amongst his catalog. Whereas, Swimming, built off the progression of Divine Feminine but had traces of self-care where we thought Mac had found his way to stay afloat without drowning.
In both albums, he tapped into something that was beautiful.
Mac Miller was a selfless individual who will be missed in a really deep way. He gave us a peek into his darkest places which gave awareness of his demons — so that we could fight our own.
We go through life too fast and too preoccupied that we forget about the I or the self, and to take care of ourselves before dealing with the issues of the external world.
The battle of knowing and fighting to stay true to yourself is torture when you’re in the spotlight and the world is telling you who to be.
“You just have to get out of your own way, and everything will just connect for itself,” said Mac Miller in his Vulture Interview.
Nothing matters as long as you’re moving forward — I constantly fight this battle and pretty much live in my own head. Whether it is focusing on my self-care or practicing my craft by writing more, I constantly remind myself to stick to the goal. There will be moments where you drop off but as long as you stay focused on your beliefs and get out of your mind everything always works out.
Mac Miller always stayed true to what he believes in instead of doing what he’s supposed to be doing. In a MTV Interview, he says, “I’m going to make good music and I’m going to capture every aspect of being a good human being…that’s really all I’m trying to do.” Mac Miller left a bit of himself in each of us, we just have to use what he gave to create our own happiness.
To honor the life of Mac Miller is pretty simple, as he already laid the groundwork for us:
Work on your dreams.
Listen to your feelings.
Connect people together.
Take chances on people.
Shine love and shine bright.
Give back more to the universe than you take.
There’s a bit of Mac inside all of us.