Fame, addiction and redefining a posthumous legacy.
By: Chase Congleton
September 7 marked one year since the passing of Mac Miller, one of hip-hop’s most underrated rappers. While his high-profile relationship with Ariana Grande and fatal drug addiction plagued headlines during the last few years of his life, it was during those times fans aimed their focus on Mac Miller’s music and his evolution as a man was shown.
Mac Miller, born Malcolm McCormick in Pittsburgh, began his prolific career in 2007 after the release of his first mix tape. Known for his calm, laid-back attitude on most of his tracks, Miller quickly became one of the most relatable rappers within a new wave of hip-hop artists.
With each new album and mix tape, Miller never failed to show a new side of his persona, especially in his last few releases. Evolving from a bombastic adolescent to a full-grown adult, Miller began to experiment with different genres such as R&B, funk and jazz. With each new release he became more vulnerable about the issues he addressed, from unhealthy relationships to struggles with substance abuse.
Miller's last and most reflective album, "Swimming," was birthed from his public breakup with Ariana Grande and his recent relapse, one month before he ultimately succumbed to his battle with addiction. At the moment when it seemed life’s pendulum would swing the opposite direction in Mac Miller’s favor, his life was tragically cut short.
So, what exactly becomes of an artist post-mortem? In recent decades, the solution to a dead artist is to release as much music as possible. Estates of artists such as Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Tupac and XXXtentacion have rapidly released new collections of the artist’s work within months of their passing, each with varying degrees of success and critical reception.
Even the acclaimed TV show “Black Mirror” gives an example in the 2019 episode “Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too.” Miley Cyrus portrays a pop sensation, Ashley O., who seems to fall into a coma. It begins to beg the question, “if an artist is worth more dead than alive, what’s the point of a living artist?”
A living artist is able to speak their truth through the art of music and bare their soul for the world to see, which is apparently what Mac Miller’s estate believes.
Since Mac Miller’s passing, his estate has only released two posthumous tracks: “Time” featuring Free Nationals and Kali Uchis, and “That’s Life” featuring 88-Keys and Sia. Both tracks were released to the public with intentions to honor Miller’s legacy, rather than financially exploit it. At this time, there have been no announcements regarding a posthumous album of his unreleased songs.
Artists are human. Art is a process. Life is fragile. If Mac Miller would have found the proper help to fight his constant battle with addiction, he would still be here making music for his millions of fans.
If you or a loved one struggle with addiction, there is a plethora of resources available to help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline, 1-800-622-HELP, is a free hotline for individuals facing the trials of substance abuse. Addiction is a disease that doesn't discriminate who it affects and it is a battle that cannot be fought alone. Don't fight it alone.