The legacy of Mac Miller

Jordan Cuskey, Staff Writer

Sept. 7 marks the four year anniversary of Mac Miller’s death. I am dedicating this article to his career. Within this article I will be discussing some of Miller’s accomplishments as well as the evolution of his music. In a follow up article I will be sharing the impact Miller had on people in dedication of his legacy. 

Malcolm James McCormick, a.k.a. Mac Miller, was born on Jan. 19, 1992 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Miller was a self-taught musician of piano, guitar, drums and bass. He first began his career — getting serious with rapping at age 15 — making mixtapes while in high school under the name Easy Mac or “EZ Mac.” He began going by Mac Miller in 2009 when releasing two mixtapes, “The Jukebox: Prelude to Class Clown” and “The High Life.”

In 2010 Miller was signed to Rostrum Records, an independent label where he was able to release his mixtapes “K.I.D.S” in 2010 and “Best Day Ever” in 2011. Miller experienced local success and at the 2010 Pittsburgh Hip Hop Awards he won the 21 & Under of the Year category along with Best Hip Hop Video for his song “Live Free.”

Miller also released his first studio album “Blue Slide Park” in 2011, which was inspired by the park in Pittsburgh which he grew up going to. This album topped the US Billboard 200. Additionally, Miller founded his own record label REMember Music in 2013 and held a TV series with MTV. REMember Music focused on Pittsburgh artists as well as Miller’s own projects. He released “Watching Movies With The Sound Off” and his live album “Live From Space” with Rostrum in 2013. “Watching Movies With The Sound Off” was praised for a new psychedelic sound, straying from the immature “frat rap” critics claimed Miller’s previous works to be. This was just the beginning of Miller’s growth in writing, production and performance.

2013 was also the year in which Pittsburgh’s mayor Luke Ravenstahl gave Miller a key to the city, declaring Sept. 20 “Mac Miller Day.” Miller released his 10th solo mixtape “Faces” in May of 2014. He then merged REMember Music with and signed with Warner Bros Records in October 2014. There he went off to release “GO:OD AM” (2015), “The Divine Feminine’ (2016) and “Swimming” (2018). After his death, the album “Circles” was released in 2020. Miller was posthumously nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album for “Swimming.” 

Though Miller has now been gone for four years, his legacy and music live on through his family and friends. The posthumous releases have been initiated by his family rather than the record label in order to maintain respect for Miller. Miller’s six full-length studio albums each held a different style, showed growth musically and projected a distinct message from the standpoint of Miller at the time of its release; from “Blue Slide Park” themes of youth, to “Watching Movies With The Sound Off” experimental sound, “GO:OD AM” jazz instrumentals, to the “Divine Feminine” themes of love and feminine energy.

From “Swimming’s” descriptions of the highs and lows of life and increased use of singing, to “Circles” messages of hope, and the connection between the two that for Miller life means swimming in circles. Unfortunately, Malcolm McCormick did not live to see the full circle of life. He was taken from the world too soon. Mac Miller’s music helps him to live on and continue to help people get through life. I can’t begin to imagine what amazing music Miller would have gone on to create if he were still here today. 

Here is a link to Mac Miller’s Spotify profile so you can take a listen for yourself: https://open.spotify.com/artist/4LLpKhyESsyAXpc4laK94U?si=aj_l46AmScemk3I28Lsduw

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