Malcolm James Mccormick, AKA EZ Mac, Larry Fisherman, Delusional Thomas or rather Mac Miller, lived as many musical lives in his 26 years as he had names. He shed skins of genre and style effortlessly and courageously, leaving a legacy that will thrive for many years to come.
Mac’s commitment to music was instilled into his being as a child. Music was the underbelly of his life, as he began rapping at 8 years old and released his first mixtape, But My Mackin’ Aint Easy, at the mere age of 15 under the name EZ Mac. He bulldozed his way into the hiphop scene, aware of his potential ‘token’ status as a white rapper, but kept making music no matter its reception. He was filled with a cheeky, reckless confidence that played in his favour, allowing him to feel like he was ruling the world when he was ultimately still a child. Starting off in party rap, Mac released a series of mixtapes before shedding “EZ Mac” for the more sophisticated “Mac Miller” when signing to Wiz Khalifa’s label ‘Rostrum Records’ in 2010. He premiered on YouTube with his first single “Knock Knock” from his 5th Mixtape Best Day Ever,but hit major commercial success with his debut studio album Blue Side Park in 2011 when it made it to number one on the U.S Billboard chart.
“He was one of my fave people on earth and now heaven. Anyone who knew you loved you. I love you Mac.”
Both the sound of Mac’s music and the craftsmanship of his lyrics reflected his maturation from a wide-eyed party boy, to a man who weathered a journey of fame, addiction and heartbreak, experiences that moulded his music into sophisticated and perceptive works of art. Throughout his eleven years residing in the music industry, Mac allowed the world into the depths of his psyche. Reflective and authentic in nature, his following four albums communicated his life to the world with a transparency that fails to be matched by others in the industry. Mac states in a recent interview prior to his passing that his ultimate goal was “to try to make this shit the most of a reflection of who I am.” This was the magic ingredient to Mac’s success, but periods of mental health deterioration proved that openness is a double-edged sword. With the exposure of the psyche comes a vulnerability that at times must have taken a toll on someone as emotionally aware as Mac.
“My goal is to try to make this shit the most of a reflection of who I am.”
Ironically, although Mac lived in a world where everyone knew the ins and outs of his mind, he felt that no one was “ever gonna really know me.” He was a guy who found strip clubs overrated because you ended up lonely at home at the end of the night. This says a lot about the rapper, whose music carried themes of loneliness throughout the breadth of his albums, lonely from being too rich, lonely from past relationships, lonely in the battle of addiction. You can put your whole self out into the world, but it never substitutes real intimacy. Instead loneliness can then fester in places of the personality that it otherwise wouldn’t have been able to reach. Mac’s mind was up for public consumption, with no guarantee of an emotional exchange in return. Loneliness, and the pressure of the industry is what turned Mac to depend on ‘lean’, a combination of codeine and promethazine, the drug he began relying on in 2012 during his Macadelic tour in an attempt to escape his own mind.
“I’m a very sensitive person … but this Mac Miller shit got me fucked up. He was so nice. He was the sweetest guy, he was so nice.”
Musically, his ability for reinvention and attention to detail never failed to astound those consuming his work. His sophomore album Watching Movies with the Sound Off was the first sign the Mac’s artistic reinvention that would later become his musical trademark. Here he moved from party rap to a more psychedelic sound. The album, filled with collaborations with musicians such as Tyler, the Creator, ScHoolboy Q, Action Bronson and Earl Sweatshirt, was the beginning of an introspection that Mac would later delve into headfirst.
His infatuation with the idea of putting words together and doing it cleverly is apparent within each album, however becomes increasingly refined over time with Swimming arguably residing at the peak of his lyricism. His lyrical craftsmanship creates a linear and cohesive feel. The latest jazz and blues infused album is a work that is centred around the idea of seeking lasting peace. Mac put forth that “I really wouldn’t want just happiness, and I don’t want just sadness either. I don’t want to be depressed. I want to be able to have good days and bad days … I can’t imagine not waking up sometimes and being like, ‘I don’t feel like doing shit.’ And then having days where you wake up and you feel on top of the world.”
“Mac Miller took me on my second tour ever. But beyond helping me launch my career he was one of the sweetest guys I ever knew. Great man. I loved him for real. I’m completely broken. God bless him.”
CHANCE THE RAPPER
Mac was aware of the complexities of the human experience and held the gift of conveying them eloquently through music. Artists often get caught up in being a certain version of themselves, but humans are much more complicated than being just a single identity. He felt that there is a time and place for every identity in music and that there is no need to be consistent. Every identity that Mac carried, he covered. There is no censorship or sugar coating, illusion or distraction when it comes to Mac Miller’s music, instead he created intricate songs with an authenticity that cannot be replicated.
Taken from the world at age 26, Mac left us far too soon. Rest easy up there Mac, your music will continue to change lives for the better for a long time yet.