Music is more than just art. Yes, listening to it, dissecting it, hearing the flow and the drums and the treble is all great, but to many, it’s much more than that. For many, music is like a 6th sense. A way to evoke old memories and feelings about people, places, and situations that are now only a faint memory. To remember what it felt like to be young, to be in love, to have a broken heart. To remember times that once were freeing or difficult. It’s like pulling out and smelling an old sweater, but for your ears.
That’s what Mac Miller was for me. I heard his mixtape K.I.D.S. for the first time when I was 18. I was just graduating from high school, on my way to college, and exploring new styles of music past my emo/alternative phase. My best friend and I would drive around listening to his mixtape thinking we were so cool for knowing “underground” rap music. To this day, “Uhm… follow your dreams,” is one of the best introductions I’ve ever heard. I can still put that mixtape on and jam out, reciting every word.
Mac Miller – Knock Knock
But as great as K.I.D.S. was, it was young. You can tell that it was a barely 18-year-old kid still figuring out who he wanted to be. And with each album, he grew up a little bit more. His music became more emotional and more intense, just as life does. In each of his productions, it’s clear that Mac was doing more than making music for money. Many of his songs were him sharing his emotions with his fans, connecting on a level few artists do. These are the songs that drew his fan base to him and the reason so many people fell in love with his music.
Mac Miller – Best Day Ever
I cried when I heard Mac died. I’m not usually one to mourn the death of a famous person. Outside of Mac, the only other celebrity I ever cried over was Robin Williams. And I think I cried for the both of them for the same reasons: to me, they were more than just famous people. Their art had helped create me, had helped shape me into the person I am. Without Mac Miller, I wouldn’t have found a lot of music that I listen to today. I wouldn’t hear music the same way that I hear it now. I wouldn’t have the memories I have with my best friend when we were 18. None of those things would exist without the music he created.
Mac Miller: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
Last month Mac he released his final album, Swimming. It’s an album full of hope, self-awareness, and a desire to continue to do better for himself. It begins with “Come Back to Earth,” a song filled with sadness, yet desire to continue to swim even in the toughest of times. It’s a beautifully produced song, with minimal background music focusing primarily on his words. It sets the tone for the rest of the album, which could arguably be considered one of his bests. It’s a shame we won’t ever know what else he was capable of.
Mac Miller – Self Care
In honor of Mac, I hope you remember to continue to try to live your best life. I hope you remember to love the people you love and tell them how much they mean to you. Pull out your old sweaters and remember the things that once meant the world to you. Never forget what was once important. And if you’re dealing with substance abuse, depression, or just need someone to talk to, remember to reach out. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, there are going to be people that will miss you. So stay strong, keep your head up, and just keep swimming.