Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Girl Holding Vinyl Record
Girl Holding Vinyl Record
Breanna Coon / Her Campus
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCT chapter.

Malcolm James McCormick, commonly known as Mac Miller, was born on the 19th of January 1992 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and he passed away on the 7th of September 2018.  This news came as a shock to his fans and everyone that knew him because he was only 26 years old. Many fans across the world expressed how personal the loss of Mac Miller was because of his positive influence in their lives. Mac Miller’s lyrics were those of an individual that understood the complexities of life, the struggles of dealing with depression and anxiety and he provided encouraging words on how to deal with these issues. His lyrics were accompanied by jazzy, soulful, hip-hop infused sounds that had really unique beats. There is no doubt that Miller was incredibly talented, he taught himself how to play the piano, guitar, drums and bass and he was a rapper, singer and record producer. He began to learn and hone these skills and talents at the ripe age of 14, when he decided that his passion was music and that he would dedicate his time and energy into growing as an artist.

Miller released a number of mixtapes including K.I.D.S, Macadelic, Faces and Best Day Ever. His earlier mixtapes allowed him to grow a following which allowed him to catch the attention of heavyweights in the music industry. This lead to Miller being signed with Rostrum Records in 2010, and a year later he released his debut album, Blue Slide Park. This album was number one on the U.S Billboard 200 chart and the first independently distributed album to debut the Billboard charts since 1995.

In 2013, Miller formed his own record label: REMember Music. As previously mentioned, he was a producer, he used the pseudonym Larry Fisherman to produce incredible records with the likes of SZA, Vince Staples and Earl Sweatshirt. He went on to continue to bless the world with his voice, mesmerizing melodies and his thought-provoking lyrics. He released the following studio albums:

  • Watching Movies with the Sound Off in 2013

  • GO:OD AM in 2015

  • The Divine Feminine in 2016

  • Swimming in 2018

His last album, Swimming, was released in August of 2018. This album gave listeners the impression that he was beginning to find light in the darkness:

And I was drowning, but now I’m swimming

Through stressful waters to relief.

He does not pretend to be in a state of bliss, stating that;

I just need a way out of my head

I’ll do anything for a way out

Of my head

He was candid in his art and this comforted and inspired individuals around the world. In interviews for Swimming, he stated that he wanted the world to know that he’s okay, and that anyone facing similar experiences to him can and will be okay too. This bittersweet sentiment made it harder for people to accept that he had passed away.

When Miller began his ascent into popular culture, he began to take promethazine and codeine to cope with the pressures that came with his musical successes. His lyrics show that he was someone that dealt with dark thoughts relating to himself and life in general. This, coupled with a dangerous relationship with alcohol and drugs, affected his life greatly and ultimately led to his untimely death. At the beginning of 2018, he crashed his car as a result of drinking under the influence of alcohol. This accident occurred a few days after the announcement of Mac Miller and Ariana Grande’s break-up announcement after dating for almost 2 years. This announcement led people to falsely deduce that Grande was responsible for Miller’s actions. This incident illustrated how women are viewed as rehabilitation centres for their partners. A twitter user jumped onto this misogynistic and destructive narrative and Grande responded saying that it was unfair for people to pressure women into staying in toxic relationships for the benefit of their partners (namely male partners).

The patriarchy has allowed men to be excused from taking any form of responsibility for their actions, making women bear the burdens and consequences of men. This is also known as the “Yoko Effect” and it stems from the demonization of Yoko Ono, who was married to John Lennon, when she was blamed for the rupture of The Beatles. Grande was in no way obligated to stay with someone that was derailing her well-being because of his addiction. Mac Miller agreed with Grande and stated in an interview that although it is painful to hear, it is the truth.  Family and friends of Miller expressed how supportive and positive Grande was for Miller, but the complexities that surround substance abuse did not allow for their relationship to survive. Many people wrongly blame Grande for Miller’s drug abuse. This perpetuates an idea that undermines drug abuser’s autonomy to take control and actively change their lives whilst making women feel as though they need to sacrifice their all to “save” men. It seemed as though things were looking up and that Miller was on the road to recovery when he said the following in a Rolling Stone Interview in August this year;

‘“If a bunch of people think I am a huge drug addict, OK. Cool. What can I really do? Go talk to all those people and be like ‘Naw man, it’s really not that simple?’” he says. “Have I done drugs? Yeah. But am I a drug addict? No.”

Unfortunately, whatever relationship Miller had with drugs led to his death and this highlights the detrimental consequences of using drugs. In my favourite Mac Miller song, ‘The Question’ he says the following:

Sometimes I wonder who the fuck I am

So I’ve been lookin’ in the mirror and it still don’t make no sense

I’m askin’ what am I supposed to do?

I’ve done so much in my short lifetime, but I haven’t done shit

I done flew around the whole world

First I shook a million hands and I took a million pictures

But I’m a hostage in my own world

And my thoughts my own enemy,

I got too much on my damn mind

So if I add some more stress, I just don’t see how I’m a cope

I think they underestimate the grind

I do, bring this dough, and I’m only 20 years old

I wonder why I sip this devil juice

‘Cause it feel incredible, problems, I got several

Thank God that none of that medical

Ugh, I’ve been blessed with much to be expected

He knew that he had great potential and he had the ambition to realise this potential. The impact he had on many people, myself included, shows that he managed to do so much in his short lifetime. He comforted, inspired, and motivated whilst battling with his inner demons. He was a phenomenal artist in his own right and should not be minimised to being known as Grande’s ex. He will always be remembered for his sultry, groovy music and this is evident in the response that his passing has evoked. Many fans took to social media to express their gratitude to Miller for sharing his talents with the world. His streams have gone up by 970% and artists such as Niall Horan, Drake, G-Eazy and Kehlani have honoured his legacy on stage and on social media.  

May he rest easy and finally find peace.


Sesetu is a humanities graduate from South Africa. She is interested in writing, reading and learning new languages.