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09th Sep 2018

Mac Miller was so much more than Ariana Grande’s ex, so cut that sh*t out

Will Lavin

Mac Miller was one of the good ones

No seriously, I really mean that. I know people always say that when someone passes but in Mac’s case it’s the stone cold truth.

This weekend a mother lost a son while the world lost one of its most talented artists. The moment the news broke that Malcolm McCormick’s soul had left this earth I, like so many others, was left speechless.

Found dead on Friday at his Los Angeles home from an apparent drug overdose, fans of the 26-year-old musician have been taking the loss hard. But while there are those celebrating his life through a series of social media tributes there are also a surprisingly large number of people choosing to offer negative commentary.

“It’s his own fault.”


“I’m glad he’s dead.”

These are just a few of the tweets and Facebook comments I’ve seen relating to his death. Sick, right? People will do anything to get five seconds of social media fame. Fucking pricks.

But I guess that’s just the internet, in my line of work it’s something I’ve come to expect. But the one thing that really has gotten to me is all the headlines and news posts referring to Mac as “Ariana Grande’s ex-boyfriend”. 

C’mon guys. Seriously? Like, what in the actual fuck!? You get paid to report this stuff and even in death you can’t give this guy his props and show him some respect?

Mac Miller was way more than what these uninformed news sites have painted him to be. In fact, the Pittsburgh native was an established artist way before his former lover even got close to becoming a household name. Is it that hard to know this, especially in 2018? You’ve got Google, right? Use it.

Actually… I’ll tell you about Mac Miller. 

I had the pleasure of knowing Mac Miller. But way before that I was a fan. And the way I discovered him was as unique as he was. It was one of those rare occasions where I didn’t find the artist, the artist found me.

I was at home on YouTube listening to a series of tracks by Wale – or at least that’s who I think it was – when I must have left the room and forgot to queue up the next track and so when whatever was playing ended something random started playing from the suggested queue. That something was Mac Miller’s “Nikes On My Feet”.

From the moment I heard the vocal sample from Nas’ “The World Is Yours” I knew YouTube had my back, for once. I returned to my laptop, watched the video in full, fell in love with the track and then found myself falling into a Mac Miller YouTube rabbit hole that went on all day, all night and all week. 

Then I discovered his K.I.D.S. mixtape, which had just dropped, and that became the soundtrack to the rest of my 2010 and Mac Miller became the soundtrack to the rest of my life. 

Mac Miller was so unapologetically Hip Hop and I loved that about him. Everything he did was Hip Hop. He was all about the culture and the betterment of it. He had a pure heart and an even purer soul, which was something easily identifiable in the music he made and the way in which he carried himself. It was uncanny how much he reminded me of myself.

I felt like he and I lived parallel lives. We were both white. We both loved and respected Hip Hop culture. We both knew and rapped the words to “Rappers Delight” at a very young age (his was filmed and used at the beginning of his “Best Day Ever” video). We educated our friends and family on the history and values of Hip Hop. And we were both respected by our peers.

To me our come up felt the same. We had to prove that we truly belonged and that we weren’t another culture vulture infiltrating something built by the black and latino communities to exploit for our own personal gain. We understood we were guests in the house of Hip Hop.

While I was that kid making mixtapes that featured the likes of Public Enemy, Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, 2Pac, Biggie, Lil’ Kim, Coolio, Warren G and more to share with my school friends, Mac was the kid in the lunchroom spitting raps over beats by those same artists.

He was someone who was rarely painted with the white rapper stigma. At first I found this odd because we live in a world where labelling everything is just what we do but I soon realised that the reason for it was because he wasn’t a white rapper, he was a uniquely gifted artist who could do it all. He was a rapper, a singer, a producer (often under his alias Larry Fisherman), a writer, a multi-instrumentalist, a director, and so much more.

I remember seeing him perform in London on the day his sophomore album, Watching Movies with the Sound Off, was released. He played the album live for a small audience at Brixton’s Plan B. But it wasn’t him just rapping over a backing track, oh no not Mac. He was never one to sell his fans short. Instead he was backed up by The Internet. Yes, you read that right. THE INTERNET. 

The fact that he had the foresight to use The Internet as his house band before they became your favourite band’s favourite band just proved that he was always about the artistry, it was always about the music for Mac. All he wanted was for it to sound the best it possibly could. 

The first time I ever met Mac Miller was in 2013 backstage at his O2 Institute Birmingham show. I had seen him perform three times previous since first discovering his music but this show was special because it was the first time I was going to get the opportunity to interview him.

Something that stood out to me at the time was how unassuming he was. He was sat on a bench smoking a cigarette as I walked around the corner and straight away I could tell that he possessed a laid back and unruffled aura. He stood up, introduced himself – he wasn’t presumptuous in thinking that I would know who he was – and then proceeded to dap me up following it with a hug.

We were due to talk for 20 minutes but the interview ended up clocking in at a little over an hour because we ended up going off on all sorts of tangents. But that was Mac. He always gave you all of his attention and if the conversation was something that interested him he wanted to keep on talking, especially if it was a conversation that involved geeking out over music. Every interview we did after that went the exact same way.

Alongside the likes of Drake, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Big Sean, Mac played an integral role in the resurgence of the mixtape scene that took place towards the end of the 2000s. Because of this he went on to inspire the next generation of artists, which was made even more obvious this weekend following his passing when the likes of G-Eazy, Logic, Post Malone, Chance The Rapper, Machine Gun Kelly and various others let it be known how much he meant to them and their careers.

With one of the most diverse back catalogues in music, Mac went from frat rap (But My Mackin’ Ain’t Easy) to backpack (K.I.D.S.), from pop (Best Day Ever, Blue Slide Park) to experimental (Watching Movies with the Sound Off), and from music with a more mature undertone (GO:OD am) to producing two albums that transcended Hip Hop inspired by jazz, dance, indie, rock, funk and house (The Divine Feminine, Swimming). There was an obvious evolution to his music. Who else can say they did that and stayed both relevant and successful? Not many.

He wasn’t just able to make the chemistry with the diverse selection of beats he rapped over seem effortless – one minute he was spitting over a Lord Finesse track and the next something by MGMT – the chemistry with his collaborators was something to be marvelled at too.

Whether it was heavyweights such as Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, The Weeknd, Miguel or Anderson .Paak – “Dang!” Is by far one of my favourite Mac Miller tracks – or lesser known artists like Boaz, Little Dragon, Sir Michael Rocks or Casey Veggies, Mac always made that shit sound so good.

The last time I spoke to Mac Miller it was July of last year, I saw him twice in one week. The first was in a hotel in Paris and the second was backstage at a festival in Switzerland. We exchanged numbers and chopped it up about music, as per usual. And while I didn’t know it was going to be the last time I ever got to see him I made sure I gave him his flowers. 

Don’t know what I mean by that?

Too many people are quick to celebrate a person’s life after they’re gone. But what about when they’re here? If you think someone is dope then tell them you think they’re dope. If you love something they’ve done then tell them. I love music. I love the creators of music. With that said I make sure I give artists their metaphorical flowers while they’re still here.

I told Mac how much I loved “Dang!” And I made sure he knew how important he was to not only the culture but me also – he already knew but I’m a big believer in continually keeping the same energy.

From having five Top 10 albums (including a number one) and being a part of one of the most iconic XXL Freshman classes of all-time to touring the world 10 times over, having his own TV show and having JAY-Z refer to him as a “nice” MC, Mac Miller was special. He was so much more than just a rapper. He was an accomplished visionary who wasn’t afraid to put his life in-between the paper’s lines for all to know, judge and dissect. It takes a lot of courage to do that.

While I didn’t spend as much time with him as I’d have liked to I will forever cherish what time I did have with Mac Miller. He always showed me mad love and his energy lit up the room every time we got together. It doesn’t feel right that he’s not here. Truly, it doesn’t. He had so much more growth to achieve as a man and with his music. I honestly thought we had more time with him. 26-years-old is no age to lose anyone, let alone someone as talented as Mac.

My thoughts, prayers and love go out to his mother, his family and friends. Mrs. McCormick, Q, Clockwork, I’m truly sorry for your loss.

Rest in peace Mac. We miss you.