Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Out of this World

Posted 12/09/2022 by Stephen LoJacono

Mac Miller performing at a concert. photo courtesy of Mauricio Santana

Until his unexpected death, Mac Miller rose to stardom and gained many fans at a young age.

Malcolm “Mac Miller” McCormick is arguably one of the most unique and influential rappers in recent history. His music left an impact on millions of people, and he brought variety and a new flavor to the hip-hop industry. Miller died of a fentanyl overdose on September 7th, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. As of October 2022, he had 10 million monthly listeners, proving his following did not fade after death. With his unique vocals and deep meanings within the lyrics, Miller’s music changed many lives, and what he did for the music industry has been astonishing. 

Malcolm McCormick was born on January 19th, 1992, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he lived throughout his childhood. According to his parents, he was a troublemaker as a kid and always loved music. In the early years of McCormick’s career, he was seen as a sheepish white kid with an infectious grin who often showed love to his hometown through his music. In many of his songs, Mac alludes to the effects of Marajana and other narcotics, which has proven to be an effective way to target a younger audience. In high school, he decided to focus on rapping, and in 2017, he reflected on the start of his career. “Once I hit 15, I got real serious about it and it changed my life completely … I used to be into sports, play all the sports, go to all the high school parties. But once I found out hip-hop is almost like a job, that’s all I did.” 

Miller endured many mental struggles, and he describes the pain he was going through while writing music. The first mixtape he produced, But my Mackin Ain’t Easy, was released in 2007 when he was 15 and saw some success, but McCormick wanted more. 

Throughout his teenage years, he fell in love with hip-hop and discovered freestyle rap, where he found his true passion. Post-high school, Miller started focusing entirely on music and audio production. In 2010, he released his fourth mixtape, K.I.D.S, which put him on the map. “Nikes,” “On My Feet,” “Senior Skip Day,” “Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza,” and “The Spins” are a few songs on this album, and “The Spins” is still his most popular song after 12 years. For the next five years, he would continue to produce beloved music, with his first album Blue Slide Park in 2011 addressing his childhood and maturing. In 2012, he released the mixtape Macadelic, which began his era of speaking out about his depression and anger issues. Rounding up the first chapter of Miller’s career was his second album, Watching Movies With the Sound Off the following year. 

The next chapter of Miller’s career is when he starts to explode in popularity with the albums GO:OD AM, The Divine Feminine, Swimming, and Circles. He shows his struggle with maintaining sobriety, feeling depressed about his girlfriends and his experiences with them. He also took on a more relaxed, calmer style despite his struggles, such as dating Ariana Grande, various mental health issues, and wanting to explore for love. All four of these albums are eye-opening. McCormick’s creativity and the range of music he could make drew many to his releases. But this doesn’t take away from his work with other artists. For every song, he could switch up his style and fundamentally change how he makes music, which is quite rare for a musician. Listeners can hear the emotion in his storytelling, while his out-of-this-world creativity and selflessness make many mourn his passing. 

The pattern of rappers dying young has been common. A few notable artists were Juice WRLD, Pop Smoke, and recently, Takeoff. All were just getting started in their rap careers. Like Mac Miller, these young artists had unrealized potential and never got a shot. If Mac were still alive, many wonder what he could have continued to do for hip-hop and rap.