My high school best friend is a huge Mac Miller fan. Even while I was in my Mumford and Sons phase, I still loved watching her put on Mac Miller’s music and subtly flick her wrist like it was some sort of reflex. When I learned of Miller’s death, I pictured us driving around with nothing to do, sunlight glaring through the foggy windows of my friend’s red Prius, and Mac Miller playing louder than my own thoughts.
Miller’s sudden overdose came as a surprise to his friends, fans, and the media.
His life, with a recent album entitled “Swimming” released last month, showed no signs of slowing down. Miller had planned concerts and dinners with his loved ones. “We were sposed to get hawaiian this week, shoot ur video next week, i was gunna pull up for howtogetawaywithmurder, was gunna copy ur new saturn tattoo,” wrote close friend and colleague, Kehlani, on Instagram. Miller’s friends showed an outpour of shock and disappointment: “I dunno know what happened between our last convo and now but man I just pray your peaceful and moving light speed to wherever ur sposed to be ...I’ll never let you dim in my mind or spirit !!” close friend, Sza, wrote in an emotion-filled Instagram post.
However, embedded in the lyrics of his songs are the confessions of a someone struggling with idiction and mentally ill individual. For example, in his song “Come Back to Earth,” Miller sings, “I just need a way out of my head. I'll do anything for a way out of my head.” In the song “Happy Birthday,” Miller raps about his drug addiction: “getting high my downfall, it’s kinda ironic.” He even admits on the track, “Rain”, that a lot of the bragging he does isn’t reflective of his true self: “that's a flex though, cover up the issues that I kept close." "Sober I can't deal, I'm in the corner with my head low / Running from my shadow, never ending chase / Ease the pain and the battle that's within me / Sniff the same s— that got Whitney, the high heel depression,” Miller admits to his fans, friends, and family.
Yet this darkness did not dominate his personal life. In fact, Miller’s friends report how happy and lighthearted he was. At the end of her Instagram tribute, Kehlani advises, “check on your friends... even the strong funny ones.” This sentiment perfectly captures the dangers of mental illness. Unlike physical illness, we can hide mental illness. We can be strong and weak and happy and struggling all at the same time. It’s hard to image that the artist of party anthems such as “Party on Fifth Ave” and “Frick Park Market” could have so much pain beneath the surface, but Mac Miller’s tragic death goes to show that no one is immune. Mac Miller’s music brought people together – across continents, languages, and the front of a red prius – and we should keep that same sentiment after his death: look out for one another. Rest in Peace, Mac Miller, and may your music continue to make people smile.