I wish I appreciated Mac Miller more when he was alive.
I feel like this is always something said when someone passes away, especially a musical artist. But I truly feel like I missed out on one of the greatest musical minds of my lifetime. Even as I’m re-listening to Watching Movies with the Sound Off, I’m hearing an entirely different record than the one that I first heard over 8 years ago. I remember then I was only concerned with hearing “Goosebumpz” for some reason and it only being tacked on to the end of the album. I can’t remember where I first heard about “Goosebumpz” at now.
What I’ll never forget is the day that I first heard “Objects In The Mirror”. I had skimmed over the album version during my initial listen but when I saw Mac and The Internet performing it live on YouTube, I felt every bit as good as the first time I fell in love. Cigarette in hand, Mac sang his heart out as The Internet provided a lush soundscape for him to explore. To this day, that performance is one of my favorite performances ever.
Still, even though I gained more respect for Mac than I had for him during his Blue Slide Park days, I still didn’t understand the musical genius that was unfolding right before my eyes. I completely missed out on the Faces era, despite the prevalent thought that it’s Mac’s best work even with it’s dark themes. I had no idea he had started work on a joint EP with Pharrell of all people that never was completed. And I was oblivious that Mac was a studio rat who spent as much time perfecting a snare as he did a double entendre.
By the time the GO:OD AM arrived, I was sad it wasn’t more of the moody content I was searching for from him (because I missed Faces), but I enjoyed the album for what it was and moved on. I did the same thing when The Divine Feminine dropped but I was so eager to check the album off my to do list, that I missed more of Mac’s growth beyond the raps that had made him famous. Other than “Dang!”. “Dang!” is irresistible.
I saw Mac perform live at WVU’s FallFest in 2016 and I was floored by how good his live show was. But that memory was quickly overshadowed when it was confirmed that his new girlfriend Ariana Grande had been backstage. And when Swimming arrived in 2018, I put off listening to it. By this time, I knew Mac was a full-fledged artist and that I would enjoy the project. But I also thought I had time to get to it.
Three years ago, the world lost Mac Miller. I was in shock. The kid who blew up a tweet of Jay-Z’s into a poster because Hov said he was nice was gone. I went home that night and heard “Donald Trump” blasting from neighboring vehicles while I played the live version of “Objects In The Mirror”. I wrote my first rhymes in over two years that night. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to Swimming for months. I still haven’t finished it.
I started the posthumous effort Circles a day or so after it was released. I broke down listening to “Good News” and stopped. Only recently have I tried to revisit his catalog. I have listened to Faces though. What an incredible piece of work.
I’m sure it’s all highly fabricated in my head but I feel more of a connection to Mac the more I learn about him. The outpouring of love and respect from his peers. His family’s constant vigilance over his estate and legacy. How dark it got for someone who was heard on multiple formats saying he was almost sober during his GO:OD AM press run. How he was an Capricorn/Aquarius cusp, just like me.
I’m writing this because I’m still sad that Mac is no longer a part of this world, as dark as it may be. Malcolm’s music now for me is full of so many surprises and nuances that I was too busy to pay attention to years ago. Even though I didn’t know him and probably would have never met him, the thought that hip-hop could birth someone so versatile makes me happy. The idea that someone who had so much more to give should still be alive gives me so much more hope than mourning that same energy.
Because that’s how I’ve felt all day. Sad. In mourning. And then it clicked it was because of Malcolm not being here.
Because you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.