Rest in Peace
In his short 26 years of life, Mac Miller developed into the definition of a complete artist. He played five instruments, sang, rapped and produced music for over a decade since his start as a promising young teenager. Pittsburgh loved him and was loyal before his career really took off, spreading his relatable college rap to young kids all over. Growing up with him, his audience stuck close as they also went through hardships and felt similar pains. Mac’s life and journey were transparent and portrayed through his amazing musical growth. Separate from music, Mac had his own TV show and was always seen cracking jokes. Watch any of his interviews or even most recently, his NPR Tiny Desk, where he puts all of his energy into his appearances and still is able to be in high spirits.
Musically, most know Mac for his 5 studio albums, but he was very busy off of the record (no pun intended) that led to 12 other mixtapes, adding numerous classics to his repertoire. To analyze his growth over 26 short years, we’ll dive into his albums and more popular mixtapes:
K.I.D.S. – released August 13, 2010
Mac starts getting noticed with his fourth mixtape, Kickin’ Incredibly Dope S**t (K.I.D.S.) with lyrics about rollin’ around hometown Pittsburgh, smoking with his crew, and the new shoes he cops. The mixtape is full of classic beats on Nikes on my feet, Traffic in the Sky, Knock Knock and more. Everything is about the bars and even the corny ones show that Mac was incredibly skilled, yet still had a lot of room to grow.
Personal favorites: Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza, Nikes on My Feet, La La La, Senior Skip Day
Best Day Ever – released March 11, 2011
A few months later, Mac was finally seeing the money he deserved. The mixtape is filled with the swagger he gained from being 19 and famous. Songs like Best Day Ever and Donald Trump, which gained popularity after his feud with the entrepreneur/politician, are filled with lines about optimism for his career and about his love for touring for the fans. Mac’s bars were steadily developing, but his mind was all understandably wrapped up in his recent fame.
Personal favorites: Get Up, Best Day Ever, Donald Trump, Wear My Hat
Blue Slide Park – November 8, 2011
In Mac’s first somewhat introspective album, he deals with heartbreak, fake fans, and the issues of fame. The album pays respect to his roots, named after a park near his High School, but shows that Mac is indeed growing both his mic skills and his perspective. Songs like Diamonds & Gold and One Last Thing take us away from Mac’s previous happy-go-lucky mindset, now clear that the teenager was growing up.
Personal favorites: Blue Slide Park, Under the Weather, Diamonds & Gold, One Last Thing, Of The Soul
Macadelic – March 23, 2012
Mac becomes less concerned about what type of music he is making and more what we wants to be saying on the tracks. By this time, he has gathered quite the following and has enough exposure to gather Kendrick Lamar, Joey Badass, Lil Wayne and more to feature on the mixtape. Drugs are clearly an influence in his life, mentioned in a good and bad light throughout the tape, but also heard through the psychedelic-type beats. Mac is much more comfortable making what he wants to make, not what others want to hear and it works for him.
Personal favorites: Thoughts from a Balcony, Angels (When She Shuts Her Eyes), The Question, F**k ‘Em All, Vitamins, Fight the Feeling
Watching Movies With the Sound Off – June 18, 2013
Mac completely sheds his frat-star skin with the most introspective album of his career at the time. WMWTSO was seen as a jumble of feelings put into songs – no real well defined flow, but a very transparent view into Mac’s life that included themes like drug addiction, mourning the death of one of his best friends and love. He self-produced a large part of the album as well, beginning to show that he was more than just a rapper. Good friends Schoolboy Q and Earl Sweatshirt, among others, stand behind him to tell his story.
Personal favorites: I’m Not Real, Objects in the Mirror, Red Dot Music, Remember, Someone Like You, Aquarium, I Am Who Am (Killin’ Time)
Faces – May 11, 2014
My favorite project of his, “Faces” is filled with Mac rapping, singing, producing and more. He goes out on a limb to really dig into his drug addiction and it comes out through some very profound, introspective bars as well as psychedelic beats. The mixtape is full of movie and jazz samples and flows from start to finish beautifully. Lyrically, Mac is on a whole different level than he was back with K.I.D.S. and now he can bask in the recognition.
Personal favorites: Inside Outside, Here We Go, Friends, It Just Doesn’t Matter, Therapy, Polo Jeans, Diablo, Insomniak, Rain, Apparition, Thumbalina, New Faces v2, Grand Finale
GO:OD AM – September 18, 2015
Mac’s awakening from his drug-induced slumber is shown on this album (as well as the cover) as he pushes away from depression into another burst of energy to make one of his most solid rap-heavy albums to date. He’s clean and focused on some of his most famous songs like 100 Grandkids and Weekend feature on the album. With “GO:OD AM,” Mac was a household name.
Personal favorites: Brand Name, Rush Hour, 100 Grandkids, Time Flies, Weekend, Break The Law, When in Rome, Perfect Circle, Cut The Check, Ascension, Jump
The Divine Feminine – September 16, 2016
Mac is in love and through his relationship with singer Ariana Grande, his patience with life and world view have definitely changed. After his wake up call on “GO:OD AM,” Mac is clean and falling head over heels in this album. It’s mature album where his singing and rapping flow together perfectly. Mac goes through the motions to talk about relationships, love and how women have changed his life, although not specifically attributing all of this life to his girlfriend at the time. Mac, now with a wide array of fans that also happen to be popular artists, was able to conjure up features from artists like Anderson. Paak, Kendrick Lamar, CeeLo Green, Ariana Grande and Ty Dolla $ign among others.
Personal favorites: Dang!; Skin; Cinderella; We; My Favorite Part; God is Fair, Sexy Nasty
Swimming – August 3, 2018
Mac’s last album. Weeks after his split from Ariana Grande, Mac seemingly rewrote the entire album to incorporate messages about his own self-care, heard on the titled song, as well as psychological growth from dealing with the pain of his breakup. Mac also speaks on certain topics like his temper and a continual struggle of dealing with fame. The album is brought together by beautiful instrumentals that span into several genres as well as Mac’s confidence to continue to sing. His journey through life is thrust into his art and we see that not only from new developments on the album, but through the look back to 2009 – the start of him rapping under the name Mac Miller. It ain’t 2009 no more. Yeah I know what’s behind that door. Rest in peace.
Listen to the entire album on your preferred streaming service.
-Written by Myles Parker (’19)
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