Mac Miller Was A Shining Example To All That Authenticity Always Triumphs
“Like how could he go? He was part lion.”
That lyric, pulled from Mac Miller’s 2013 track “REMember,” was a heartfelt inquiry addressed to the universe. How, at such a young age of 20-years-old and a future so bright, could it be possible for his dear friend Ruben Eli Mitrani to move on to the afterlife? Tragically, nearly seven years later Malcolm James McCormick leaves his loved ones and millions of fans in a similarly desolate state, trying to make sense of such a courageous luminaries’ premature departure from this existence.
Mac Miller was an anomaly. Both the individual and the artist. A once-in-a-forever character, who through a combination of authenticity, self-assurance and dedication to a craft, became a model for proceeding with passion. Throughout his career, Mac was so vocally candid about both the pleasant and the pitfalls, including his confusion about what the purpose of it all actually was. As he expressed on 2015’s “Weekend” “I’ve been having trouble sleeping, battling these demons / Wondering what’s the thing that keeps me breathing / Is it money, fame, or neither?”
Unfortunately, one beautiful thing we learn in death is the impact one had upon their fellow mortals. In Mac’s case, we quickly discovered from the outpouring of love and thousands of heartfelt tributes that his purpose was much greater than wealth or acclaim. Miller’s purpose, which is such a charmingly unique capability for one to possess, was to simply just be himself. The good, the bad, the evolution of both the man and the music. While there was an abundance of chapters to each of those elements, one core component remained a constant: Mac being Mac.
From his initial mixtapes and videos up until his final days, Mac never attempted to be anything he wasn’t. Increasingly burdensome for a young rapper who was truly a real-life manifestation of the blog era, it would have been much easier to allow critique to derail than it would have it prompt development. We are all constructed first through immaturity and curiosity, and Mac’s was on full display in an unusually broadcasted climate. On 2012’s “Fight The Feeling” Mac touches on that abrupt realization of vacating adolescence and innocence, conveying “When you a youngin’ you just trying to live your life and have some fun / In a world where you have yet to see how evil it’s become.” While the weight of examination wore heavy, he always embraced the opportunity of it. In an era rooted in facade, he understood authenticity was a currency in itself. For much of his musical career, Mac was swimming upstream but never strayed from his spirit.
In the Hip-Hop world, authenticity can gain you applause, but without the skills to match, respect will remain absent. First and foremost, Mac was a student of the genre and music in general. He examined greatness before him and grasped that his path to prosperity would be based on lyrical aptitude and cleverness. Aware of the hurdles in front of him, even more so as a Caucasian rapper, this is where Mac’s persistence and certainty shined. Mac never saw race as a divide, as there is no place for that in music nor any universe, yet he fathomed and appreciated its relevance in coordination with his voyage. While overly humble and gentle in the flesh, his music never lost that proverbial chip on its shoulder, exemplified on 2014’s “Here We Go,” as he announced, “Admit it I’m the greatest, and I don’t hold a grudge against anybody who hated / I’m underrated don’t fit on nobody’s playlist / If I ain’t in your Top 10 then you a racist.” Because of his ability to blend inventiveness, playfulness, and an unmissable (yet lovable) natural arrogance, Mac ultimately ascended to being respected by some of the most respected. Although he knew he deserved the acclaim, it was always a place he was adorably bashful to be at and did not take lightly. Many artists never get to feel the elation of knowing they’ve arrived in the graces of the greats, but it was evident Mac realized that induction, and that is such a warming notion in the wake of his passing.
How you handle success can be a great determiner in accumulating more of it, and Mac navigated his accomplishments with poise and politeness. His family, friends, and fans always came first, and his ambition to share that shine was stated multiple times throughout his discography. On 2014’s “Friends,” he delivers “I think it’s time to give me all your praises / So I can get this money and give all the homies raises.” In most cases when icons meet their expiration, the legend of the individual is so colossal that it feels as if the persona was larger than life itself. What was so endearing about Mac Miller though was that the same blind kindness he dispersed amongst his circle, also radiated in the direction of the casual listener. Because of his unprocessed sincerity, he felt like a close friend to those who had never even met him. He wore his struggles and demons as openly as his strength and joy, and for that, we were all able to grow alongside him.
As is the case with all of us on some scale, the demons Mac dealt with were ever-present. His struggles with drug use and his own mental stability eventually became a common theme throughout his music, most notably on the 2014 mixtape Faces. Always transparent about his addiction, from the haunting lyrics on that project, such as “Doing drugs is just a war with boredom, but they sure to get me,” (“Funeral”), to addressing his scuffle with sorrow on the track “2009” from his most recent release (Swimming), “Sometimes I wish I took a simpler route, instead of having demons that’s as big as my house.”
The most fascinating thing about Mac’s internal strife though is that he remained productive, delightful, and approachable throughout. When someone is as functional as Mac was on that scale, while being so forthcoming in the midst of their issues, they almost become a real-life superhero in a sense. In a peculiar way, it’s admirable to be able to create such grand art while simultaneously managing so much darkness. That is one of the most tragic facets of Mac’s death. As evidenced within the parameters of the magnificently composed Swimming, the impression of Mac’s increased clarity was suggested. While the battle was still ongoing, he was seemingly winning the war.
On that same 2013 track (“REMember”) in which Mac honors his departed brother, he pens a lyric that weighs heavy and provides some guidance to every individual with a pulse and a dream. Mac profoundly communicates, “Your life’s short don’t ever question the length / It’s cool to cry don’t ever question your strength / I recommend no limits, intricate thought / Go ‘head, just give it a shot.”
To the creators of the world, let those lyrics be lasting instruction. Allow Mac Miller’s colorful existence to be an example of the magic that can happen when you are unapologetically you. Don’t take your time for granted, and follow your dreams. As Mac notes in “2009,” “A life ain’t a life ‘till you live it.” Continue to be fearless. Continue to create and share it with the world. Continue to live your life.