From “Blue Slide Park” to “Swimming”: looking back at the beloved rapper’s career.
When I was 13 years old, I heard my first Mac Miller song. It was called “Donald Trump”, and it was about having money, being young, and being famous. I didn’t think it was very good, I thought that it was dumb fun.
Kind of like a Transformers movie. Today, I listened to one of the last Mac Miller songs, and I’m miserable.
The song “So it Goes” is all about how Mac had finally accepted life, and how it is all one big pattern. How no matter what, he’ll be there singing about his problems, because that’s what he does. The song title is a reference to Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, “Slaughterhouse-Five”. Vonnegut uses this phrase every time a death occurs.
The song was the final piece of media Mac sent out into the world, as his last online post was an Instagram story of the song spinning on his record player.
Mac overdosed last week on Saturday, September 7. While Mac was with us, he may have been best known for his relationship with pop singer Ariana Grande.
While their relationship is interesting, I would like to focus on Mac Miller and the music he gave us. So, let’s take a deep dive into the world of songs he was able to create in his short time on Earth.
Mac Miller started his career in a very humble place. Pittsburgh, PA. He started rapping at the age of 14, releasing small mixtapes here and there, garnering attention from local record labels after he was a final four contestant in a local rapping competition.
Signing with Rostrum Records after president Benjy Grinberg met him in a meet up with Wiz Khalifa, Mac started his first tour, which he subsequently sold out at every location.
The first major mixtape Mac released was “Best Day Ever”, comprised of hits “Donald Trump” and “All Around the World”.
Quickly after this, Miller dropped the single “Knock, Knock” to capitalize on his success. This song followed the themes of his previous mixes, being fun, light and good hearted.
Following this, Mac released his debut album Blue Slide Park, which sold well, landing him a top spot on the Billboard Top 200. Critical conception wasn’t very positive, mostly claiming the music was too easy and that Mac had lots of room to grow.
Not to be dissuaded by critics, Mac followed up BSP with the album “Watching Movies with the Sound Off”. This album showed the immense growth Mac had made in the years after his last album, dealing with problems like drugs, relationships, and his purpose in life.
Critics warmed to him after this record, praising his growth lyrically but still citing his production as an area he could improve.
Again, Mac went to work, releasing the album “GO:OD AM”. Old and new Mac fans found this album enjoyable, and critics enjoyed it too.
While it seemed like a step back for Mac commercially, the public could begin to see that he was growing into his potential.
And that brings us to Mac’s final two acts, “The Divine Feminine” and “Swimming”. I coupled these albums together because they complement each other so well.
Both of these albums deal with Mac’s personal life to an admittedly more poignant extent on Swimming, and deliver some of the best instrumentals and production found in the hip hop genre today.
The way Mac blended jazz, pop and rap together to create these albums is nothing short of spectacular and they deserve all the praise they have received.
When I think about Mac Miller, I will think about a man who took criticism and used it well.
I will think of a man who was an exceptional role model in the face of spectacular fame. And most of all, I will think of an artist who made music that he enjoyed.
“Swimming” is available on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music. I suggest we all listen to it one more time and take one final dip in the pool with Mac.
Feature photo courtesy of Amy Harris/Invision/AP.