TW: Substance Use, Depression
Malcolm James McCormick, more famously known as Mac Miller, was near and dear to a lot of our hearts. From 2010, with his first mixtape titled K.I.D.S., to his tragic death and posthumous album released in January of 2020, Circles, we watched him grow up before our eyes. The evolution of Mac’s music throughout the years was nothing short of extraordinary; he went from tracks like Party on 5th Ave and Up All Night, which detailed partying, women, and money, to entire albums that focused on mental health and substance use issues. This development was seen as legendary in the eyes of many, and with good reason. Mac Miller transformed his emotions and issues with substance use into music that portrayed raw feelings, and helped people around the world know that they are not alone in their struggles.
September 7th was the two year anniversary of Mac Miller’s death. For years, Miller rapped about his inescapable addictions; his 2013 album Watching Movies with the Sound Off and his mixtape Faces both went in depth on this. On Watching Movies, the first lyric of the first song is Mac describing himself being stuck in a purgatory due to his drug use. This was just one among the dozens of lines that Mac wrote in order to convey how deeply he was caught in the devastating cycle of addiction; listening to these lines after his death is nothing short of chilling. The last album Miller was alive to put out was titled Swimming, and it was released in August of 2018, a month before his death. Swimming was one of Mac’s most raw and emotional albums. One of the most notable tracks on Swimming is titled 2009; this song deals with his depression, drug use, and struggles with fame. The soft piano that plays behind his rapping leaves a melancholy tone, paired with lyrics that detailed his battles such as: “A life ain't a life 'til you live it, I was diggin' me a hole, big enough to bury my soul, weight of the world, I gotta carry my own”.
This track remains as one of the most agonizing songs to hear, along with the entire album, as it feels to many like it was a cry for help. Swimming was powerful, and as it was released so soon before his death, it feels painful to listen to. Through his music, Mac Miller portrayed raw and real issues that people all around the world deal with, and his music has helped so many to cope. When the news broke that Mac Miller had accidentally overdosed on fentanyl, fans were anguished beyond words. Many still feel the same pain today; Mac Miller was special and left an unparalleled legacy. Here are fifteen of the most impactful songs by Mac that speak on mental health and substance use.