Very rarely in music do we see an artist actually grow and age before our very eyes. This concept has always been something that’s been observed in film and television, however, it is unusual to not only see this growth but also grow with them as well. Growth is one of the few guarantees in life. Nobody is exactly the same way they were in the past, often changing and becoming into the person they strive to be or unfortunately becoming the very thing they sought to stray away from. 2010 saw the introduction of an artist who would suffer from immense issues but continued to use music as an outlet for their thoughts. 2010 was the year that Mac Miller became known in the music industry.
Mac Miller’s journey started in 2007 with his first mixtape titled But My Mackin’ Ain’t Easy when he went by the name of Easy Mac. I, like most others, became familiar with Mac Miller in 2010 with his mixtape K.I.D.S, which I believe set him up on the path to success and fame. 2010 was a great year for artists who released mixtapes such as Wiz Khalifa, J. Cole, and Tyler, The Creator. However, K.I.D.S brought something new to the table that others were never truly able to capture, Mac Miller was only 18 at the time which allowed him to bring the idea of youth to fruition. This first incarnation of Mac Miller was the personification of youth, this concept would lead him to create many well-known and enjoyed songs at this stage of his career. As the next couple of years went on, Mac Miller would find great success in songs like “Donald Trump”, “Loud”, and “Party on Fifth Ave.” All of these songs were filled with the concept of what it means to be young and cool while still amassing wealth and fame in the background.
Blue Slide Park, is Mac Miller’s debut album and got released in 2011 and was met with mixed reviews. At this time Mac Miller was a frequent user of cocaine and promethazine and would begin to fight substance abuse for the next seven years. During this period, Mac Miller would evolve into an artist who explored different sounds, styles, and concepts. In Mac Miller’s music career, he was always open about addiction, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Mac Miller’s dedication to transparency in his art is what set him apart from a majority of other rappers during this time. The transparency about his struggles and detrimental coping mechanisms allowed listeners to really connect with him on a personal level. While fighting substance abuse, Mac Miller continued to evolve musically which would result in his final two albums taking a new sound and style, unlike anything he’s ever released.
The Divine Feminine is very much an album of self-exploration and reflection. Mac Miller was currently dating Ariana Grande at this time which resulted in the album sounding more like a love letter instead of a hip-hop album. The Divine Feminine tackles the genre of jazz while infusing it with rap lyrics. Mac Miller’s talent shined through on this album as it impeccably shows how an artist can successfully change genres in order to explore different facets of sound. The album was met with positive reviews from critics and fans alike, thus reaffirming that this change of sound was prosperous. Two years later, Mac Miller would release an album titled Swimming. Mac Miller continues his jazz-rap sound on Swimming as he is finally able to confront his demons confidently. Mac Miller seemingly knew his self-destructive tendencies would always win. Mac Miller comes to terms with this reality on Swimming which ended up becoming his last album. Swimming is the heartbreaking end to Mac Miller’s career as he, unfortunately, passed away a month later due to overdosing.
With a career starting in 2007 and ending in 2018, Mac Miller’s growth over 11 years is perhaps the most unique and advantageous journey to ever occur in the hip-hop genre. The tale of Mac Miller which unfortunately ended in tragedy will undeniably live on forever in the hearts and headphones of many. Mac Miller not only put immense time and effort into learning how to make music, he also learned how to personify and perfect it. Albums such as GO:OD AM, The Divine Feminine, and Swimming are what I would consider classic albums from the 2010’s. His inner drive to express himself to the world will forever be an inspiration to those who listen to his work. Mac Miller’s influence on music will be known eternally due to his extensive experimentation and passion that each album was crafted with. Although Mac Miller lost the battle, he succeeded in giving others a chance to fight back and ultimately win the war against substance abuse.