Before you whip out your pitchforks, I’ll admit that Mac Miller doesn’t have a discography as iconic as 2Pac and Biggie. His early mixtapes and albums have not aged well at all. Embracing the frat-rap and party bro culture of the late 2000s, Mac was a rapper that lived in the moment, creating music that he believed he could make. Much of his work remains stuck in its time.
Both 2Pac and Biggie were superstars of their time, easily the driving forces behind any hip-hop culture related conversations. Each armed with classics under their belt (All Eyez on Me, Ready to Die) and past commercial dominance, their hold on the culture is still felt to this day. That is true legacy.
Yet, I still adamantly believe that Mac Miller will have a similar influence over the next generation of rappers. His music isn’t the unique nor is it the most refined, if anything it’s clearly heavily inspired by the sound of the period and his peers. But each rhyme he delivers and every beat he produces just scream ‘Mac’. It’s hard to put into words but his work oozes passion and care. The progression present throughout his career has been the perfect accompanying soundtrack for many that have stuck with him since his debut. His influence that has taken root within the minds and hearts of listeners over this 10+ year journey cannot be any more understated.
The outpouring of love that Mac has received shows no sign of slowing down since his passing three months ago. Friends and collaborators alike described him as a cool dude and one that wasn’t afraid to use his platform to shine a spotlight on fellow rappers. Fans have been welcoming to the flood of new listeners that just got their first exposure to Mac. The warmth exuded is one that originates from a genuine place, spreading copious amounts of love that would make Mac himself proud.
Mac’s early mixtapes (K.I.D.S., Best Day Ever) introduced the world to a young man that revelled in the vices that hip-hop championed – girls, money, and cars. Yet it also brought us the infectious joy that he could never really replicate later in his career. His debut album – Blue Slide Park, wasn’t any different. It wasn’t till his next release – Watching Movies With the Sound Off, saw Mac evolve into the ever-improving beast that we’ve become so familiar with.
This album saw him distance himself from the boom-bap production in favor of a more experimental sound. A fitting backdrop for him to explore the internal demons that he’d been struggling with. His next album GO:OD AM went back to a slightly more accessible sound by still kept in line with the well-explored themes of the past. I’ve haven’t even mentioned his prior run of mixtapes before this (Macadelic, Faces) that touched on suicide and depression.
It was a dark time for Mac, yet also one that strongly resonated with fans. Fresh out of college, the feelings of uncertainty and nostalgia peaked in this era of Mac. Every man experiences that many of his fans would be or have gone through themselves. Unlike 2Pac or Biggie, Mac never took on a larger than life persona that people worshipped, but he was idolized all the same.
Then came The Divine Feminine and his unfortunate final album – Swimming, both of which a celebration of life, pieces of art that made by an artist that wanted to live. Arguably the best two projects of his career, Mac’s life was wrongfully robbed from him as he reached the prime of his career. Just one stupid decision was enough to cut short the immense potential that could have followed the excellence that he’s given us.
I could go on and on about why I adore his music and the impact that it’s had on his many fans around the globe. It still wouldn’t be enough to justify the legacy that he should have amongst the culture. The artistic evolution that we witnessed was just the tip of the iceberg of the man that was Mac Miller.
He might have not been the best rapper nor was he the best producer, but he was the most endearing influence that the culture could ever ask for.
‘Take my time to finish, mind my business
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
My own, with these songs I can carry you home
I’m right here when you scared and alone’