State High Remembers Rapper Mac Miller

Kaylana Hoffman shows off her tattoo of Mac Miller that she got following his death. Sept. 7 was the five year anniversary of Miller’s death from an accidental overdose.
Kaylana Hoffman shows off her tattoo of Mac Miller that she got following his death. Sept. 7 was the five year anniversary of Miller’s death from an accidental overdose.
Grace Levy

Sept. 7 marked the five year anniversary of rapper-singer Mac Miller’s untimely death. The Pittsburgh born artist died in 2018 due to an accidental overdose. His death shocked the music world as Miller was only 26 years old and entering the height of his career. He is remembered as an emotionally candid artist who pushed boundaries with both his musical style and themes. 

Miller debuted on the Pittsburgh hip-hop scene at age 15. He released multiple mixtapes, including “K.I.D.S.”, before releasing his debut album “Blue Slide Park” in 2011. He released five more albums between 2013 and 2020, with “Circles” being released posthumously. His album “Swimming”  earned Miller a posthumous Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Album of the year in 2018. 

Miller’s music is multidimensional, encompassing many genres as well as many emotional themes. Miller’s early albums were hip-hop, focused on Miller’s rapping. As he grew as an artist, he started incorporating more styles into his music, such as R&B, jazz, and emo rap. Later albums also feature more of Miller’s singing and producing. 

“I started listening to [Miller] because of my sister, she was always a really big fan,” State High sophomore Morgan Leitzell said. “I really liked his range and the topics that he talks about. He has a lot of upbeat, but also some really sad songs.”

Miller’s early music was considered “frat-rap”; its catchy hits often devoid of real emotion. As Miller grew as an artist, the emotions he shared in his music progressed. Now, much of his music is notable for its themes about mental health struggles, especially addiction. By sharing his own emotions, Miller connected with his audience, especially those experiencing similar feelings.

“In his album ‘K.I.D.S.’, I like his theme of just going through the day of a normal high schooler,” State High junior Sophia Reutzel said. “It’s very relatable. Also, as someone who’s struggled with mental health in the past, it helps to relate to someone, and I can listen and relate to a song that is about overwhelming feelings and intrusive thoughts.” 

Miller’s music also touched on more positive topics. On “GO:OD AM” he showed an optimistic attitude towards recovery, along with embracing good energy in general. With “The Divine Feminine”, Miller delved into his love life, celebrating the women who have influenced him throughout his life. 

“My favorite album would have to be ‘The Divine Feminine’,” Leitzell stated. “[Miller] talks about really serious topics like drugs and all that in some songs, but I also love [sic] the songs he makes about his love life. He’s very romantic.”

While “Swimming” looked at heartbreak and Miller’s deteriorating mental health, “Circles” made a full circle, as although Miller still focused on heartbreak and his mental health struggles, he was accepting and honest. His posthumous release was particularly impactful, as it showed the complexities of the emotions he was experiencing and how they translated to his music. 

“In some of his songs, he talks about how he loves being young and you only live once, then in some of his other songs he talks about his depression and his struggle with [mental health], so I think it really makes those songs hit a little bit different knowing that he’s passed away,” Reutzel said. 

Miller’s following is vast, with fans ranging from casual listeners of his hits to more dedicated followers of his emotionally mature albums. These fans are drawn to him for a variety of reasons, particularly Miller’s authentic persona. 

Kaylana Hoffman, a State High cafeteria employee, is one of those fans. Hoffman has portrait tattoos of influential pop culture figures, including Betty White and Vincent Van Gogh, but her portrait of Miller was the first one she had done and she regards it as the most important.

“[Miller] has always got a special place in my heart because his death date was actually the day after my birthday, so I felt like I had a connection with him,” Hoffman explained. 

Like many others, Miller’s music focus on mental health made her a fan.

“I like how much he talks about mental health struggles and addiction. [Especially] the mental health aspect because he was really open about that and I thought it was really different to see a rapper be like that,” Hoffman said. 

In honor of Miller, people celebrate his legacy through appreciating his music and the community he has cultivated. Miller was able to touch diverse audiences, supporting them in both good days and bad. Miller showed what it means to be a dedicated artist, as he developed his style into the introspective style fans know and love today.

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  • J

    josSep 16, 2023 at 7:55 PM

    Rest in peace Mac<3

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