Mac Miller passed away tragically Friday from an apparent overdose, sources tell TMZ. The 26-year-old rapper was found around noon at his home in the San Fernando Valley and was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities told TMZ that the 911 call was placed from inside Miller’s home by a male friend.
Mac Miller had a history of dealing with substance abuse issues. In May, he was arrested for a DUI and hit and run after he wrapped his Mercedes G-Wagon around a utility pole.
While it’s common to focus on the why of such a young and talented star coming to a tragic conclusion, perhaps instead take some time to look at the work of the artist and see a career that began as a teenager and developed with legitimate artistic growth before ending in such a depressing manner. Here are a few of Miller’s songs as fans try to comprehend the loss.
“Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza”
Miller first started buzzing with the release of his mixtape, K.I.D.S., in 2010, when the Pittsburgh rapper was barely 18. Bursting on the scene with a charisma and coolness that was matched only by his fellow Pittsburgh rapper, Wiz Khalifa, Miller released relatable songs and videos about the world he knew, primarily smoking weed, dating girls, and buying clothes. Simple, but with an effortless style that only showed the potential that was to come.
This was the single that brought Miller into the mainstream. Long before Trump became the divisive president we now know him as, he was a shorthand rap reference to a rich person. With a catchy, building beat and positive themes that could be appreciated by anyone, this was the moment Miller burst out of the underground and became a legitimate movement. This became Miller’s first Billboard hit and also started a bizarre Twitter relationship with Trump that ranged from support to angrily demanding royalties.
Mac Miller released his first official album, Blue Slide Park, in 2011, selling 145,000 copies in the first week and becoming the first independent album since 1995 to reach the top of the Billboard Top 100. Polishing his sound and learning how to take his talents and put them into crafting hit songs, the album was a massive commercial success, despite mixed reviews, turning the young rapper into a legitimate star.
After releasing a string of singles throughout 2012, Miller went through a major artistic growth when he emerged in 2013 with Watching Movies With The Sound Off. Working with some of hip hop’s most creative figures such as Flying Lotus and Schoolboy Q, Miller created a piece of work that was less accessible than his debut but achieved the critical acclaim that Blue Slide Park never received. Miller was no longer a kid, instead developing his style and becoming a true artist.
After releasing a stream of experimental mixtapes that saw him flirt with several styles and rebuild his underground credentials after being an almost pop-star-level star. By the time he emerged in 2015 with GO:OD AM in 2015, Miller was the finished article. The rapper had found the sweet spot of releasing hit music while still achieving critical acclaim. While he was no longer the teenage star that interacted with the likes of Donald Trump, Miller had cultivated a dedicated following and was one of the most respected rappers within his field.
Miller’s final hit single, 2016’s “Dang” perfectly captures the rapper that Miller had become. Effortless flowing on a smooth beat, still retaining that effortless charisma he had as a teen, and the polish and skill to back it up. Miller had truly found his niche and had matured into becoming an influential part of the growth of some of this generation’s most talented artists, such as featured artist Anderson.Paak. The Divine Feminine debuted in the second spot on the Billboard Hot 100; Miller was basking in his success as an artist while dating pop superstar Ariana Grande.
Miller’s final video, released off of 2018’s Swimming. The album came in the aftermath of Miller’s breakup with Grande and the event was a major theme throughout Swimming. Dealing with the pain of his loss as well as speaking about his personal growth and mental help, this is Miller at his most open and creative. Watching the young artist move through heartbreak to create another powerful body of work at the time looked like it may be one of Miller’s defining moments. It’s a great tragedy that this is his final one.