Recording artist Malcolm James McCormick, more popularly known as Mac Miller, was found deceased in his Los Angeles home on Thursday, Sept. 7, the result of an apparent drug overdose.
His passing came as a shock to the music community. With his upcoming tour set to start in October and his optimistic tweets, fans saw this as Mac hitting his stride and the projection of his career was looking to be increasingly successful.
The Pittsburgh native started making music at the age of 14. As a self-taught musician he played piano, guitar, drums and the bass guitar. His 11-year music career started under his original alias EZ Mac, that then developed into the lyrically meticulous, explorative musician — Mac Miller.
Mac Miller’s past of drug use has been chronicled in his previous musical projects before “Swimming” as well. In 2014, he released the 24-track mixtape “Faces” which is often regarded by fans as one of his darkest yet greatest projects.
This mixtape gave one of the most in depth looks of the rapper’s psyche and battle with drug addiction. The first track, titled “Inside Outside,” he opens with the line “Should have died already, came in I was high already.” This set the tone of “Faces” and showed that he recognized the severity of his drug use at this point in time.
One of the most powerful tracks from this mixtape is “Funeral,” where he raps about the troubles he has faced in life and what would happen if he died. In the song Mac repeats “It’s the last day of my life/Party like it’s the last day of your life” as the hook.
Mac Miller subsequently released his third studio album in 2015 titled “GO:OD AM.” It was a departure from the dark themes found in previous projects “Faces” and “Watching Movies With the Sound Off” towards a more aware and positive perspective of things. In “GO:OD AM,” one of the subjects he raps about is how he realized that his drug use had become a problem and he needed to make a change in his lifestyle.
The second half of the track titled “Perfect Circle/God Speed” starts out with a concerned voicemail from Mac Miller’s brother checking up on him during a dark point in his life. Later in the song Mac raps “I need to man up, admit it’s a problem/I need a wake up, before one morning I don’t wake up/You make your mistakes your mistakes never make ya.”
Musicians put their lives in their songs, both good and bad, which is exemplified when you look back at Mac’s most recent album through a now tainted lense of what he was struggling with the months before his passing.
The late rapper released his last project, “Swimming,” only a month before his untimely death. “Swimming” was drowning in themes of self-care and self-awareness that most fans deemed as a hint at his improvement in mental health and his struggle with addiction that he has discussed in his music before.
“Swimming” opened up with “Come Back to Earth,” an ode to Mac’s optimism about the future while still dealing with the depression and addiction that he faced. “And I was just drowning, but now I'm swimming/through stressful waters to relief,” Mac sang over simplistic guitar strums and airy piano notes.
The track that stood out to me most was “Wings.” Mac opens up the song with lyrics, “I got a bone to pick like roses/I ain’t feeling broken no more,” as he raps about how he is almost fully healed after his emotional turmoil and how he is looking forward to what the future will hold for him. Expressing his confidence in himself with “never felt so damn good with where I’m at.”
“Sometimes, sometimes I wish I took a simpler route/Instead of having demons as big as my house,” Mac sings on “2009.” He was never one to shy away from his demons and his transparency surrounding his addiction to drugs humanized him, which is why so many fans felt invested in his music and career.
The title of the last song on the album, “So it Goes,” has been speculated to be a reference to “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut, in which he writes “so it goes” after the death of every character.
In a deleted tweet, Mac discussed “So it Goes” saying, “the end of so it goes is so beautiful man, I told jon brion to play the ascension into heaven and he nailed it.” The last instagram post Mac made before his death was of his music set up (assumingly in his LA home) playing none other than the last minute of “So it Goes.”
Shayla Cunico is the culture editor and music editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @ShaylaCunico.
Isaiah Garcia is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyLobo.