A generation is in mourning after news broke this past weekend of Mac Miller’s death. At the young age of 26, Malcolm McCormick was pronounced dead at the scene when emergency responders arrived at his house in Los Angeles around noon on Friday.
Artists across the nation of all different ages and genres have expressed their grief. Childish Gambino spoke solemnly about the loss of a fellow “internet music kid,” at his Chicago concert. He remarked on the struggles they shared together in their younger years saying, “Critics talked about ‘this corny-ass white dude, this corny-ass black dude,’ and we used to talk. And this kid, he just loved music.”
John Mayer, an unsuspecting friend and collaborator, posted a lengthy and candid Instagram tribute, remembering Miller as an incredibly funny and genuine guy. Mayer, being 40 years old and having “been through the press ringer in the past,” acted as a mentor to the young up-and-coming Mac Miller as he struggled with fame and media attention. Even the great Elton John, a noted rap fan who has expressed admiration for rappers such as Young Thug and Tech N9ne, dedicated his performance of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” to Miller at his farewell tour kickoff.
There were dozens more outpourings of emotion across social media from a wide variety of people, some close friends and some not. In either case, it gives credence to the idea that you never really know who cares about you until it’s too late. Unfortunately, Miller’s death is only one in a series of artists who have left this earth too soon; artists like Lil Peep, Avicii and XXXTentacion all died within the last year. In tragedies like this, it’s natural for people to immediately look for causes. In the case of Miller, critics were quick to blame ex-girlfriend Ariana Grande with the harshest of comments, unfairly alleging that she left him at his worst and is therefore at least partially responsible for what happened to him. However, the truth more accurately follows the tragic trajectory of addiction that we have seen throughout history. The kind of rags-to-riches success story of a young musician who struggles with fame and uses drugs to cope is obviously reductive and neglects the many complex factors at play, but the overarching trope of a narrative has become too recognizable to ignore.
In the 26 years Mac Miller was here, he became an icon for a generation of hip-hop fans. Growing up listening to Mac rap about high school, girls and all the dumb stuff that happened therein felt real. His fourth mixtape “K.I.D.S” was the soundtrack of any party at the time. Driving around suburban America, Mac’s music was sure to be playing in the background somewhere. Looking back on those times of relative obscurity when Miller was just a kid in Pittsburgh, it’s hard not to feel nostalgic for that era in the lives of many 20-somethings. Success continued for Mac right up until the day he died. His most recent album “Swimming”, released in August of 2018, debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200, receiving positive reviews across the board. As he grew and became more experienced, Miller dramatically shifted his style of hip-hop. Despite such a change, he maintained a large and devoted fan base through it all. Unquestionably, the best music he had to offer was still on the horizon.
Mitchell Clark is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.