Mac Miller Dead at 26: Another Tragic Incident Unveils a Deeper Issue in Music Culture

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Mac Miller Dead at 26: Another Tragic Incident Unveils a Deeper Issue in Music Culture

Michael Pasquella

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Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller was found dead in his San Fernando Valley home on  Sept. 7.  The cause of death is an apparent drug overdose, although the specific drug has not been identified yet.

Miller released his album, “Swimming,” just a month earlier on Aug. 3, where he discusses his problems with addiction. Throughout the album, certain lines and lyrics in his music make you wonder if warning signals were evident.

On the opening track of the album, “Come Back to Earth,” Miller already declares his mental distress saying, “just looking for a way out of my head”.

“Cause on the surface I look so fine / But really I’m buggin’, buggin’ / Makin’ somethin’ out of nothin,” he rapped on “Perfecto.”

“And sometimes, sometimes I wish I took a simpler route / Instead of havin’ demons that’s as big as my house, mhmm,” read the lyrics of “2009.”

In “Small Worlds,” Miller contemplated that he “don’t want to grow old, so I smoke just in case.”

Most concerningly he rapped about how close he was to being “gone.” “You never told me being rich was so lonely/Nobody know me, oh well/Hard to complain from this five star hotel,” he said. “Tell myself to hold on/I can feel my fingers slipping/In a motherf****** instant I’ll be gone.”

These lyrics could have been brushed off by fans because the lyrics of many rap songs today are cluttered with emo and depressing lyrics. To be able to distinguish when an artist is being genuinely honest or fake has become a cloudier task, and a “boy cried wolf” scenario has emerged.  When Miller was crying for help, his lyrics may have been taken as art, and not his honest emotions speaking through the music.

Additionally, the glorification of drug use in hip-hop nulls the reality of the serious real-world implications. Countless lyrics reference taking prescription drugs, drinking lean, or doing other drugs in a positive connotation. When a song like “Drug Addicts” by Lil Pump–a song bragging about how his whole gang is addicted to drugs–is sitting in the Top 100, that is representative of a larger problem. Joke or not, these songs are normalizing drug culture and take away from the serious effects that these drugs can have on an individual, just like Miller.

After artist Lil Peep overdosed and died on Nov. 15 from a laced Xanax pill, many artists swore that they would quit their use of recreational drugs. However, the pro-drug culture is still alive in lyrics and distracts from those really struggling with drug abuse.

Hopefully Miller’s death is another wake up call for those recreationally using harmful drugs and struggling with depression. Nevertheless, Miller’s death has still not been identified as an accident or suicide yet, so both are applicable.

Unfortunately, Miller’s death is one of many to devastate the music world this summer.  Fellow Pittsburgh rapper Jimmy Wopo and controversial artist XXXTentacion both passed away on June 18, with murder being the cause. Pop singer Demi Lovato overdosed in her own home on July 24, but survived. Famed soul singer Aretha Franklin passed Aug. 16.

In a bittersweet note, Mac Miller’s streaming numbers have climbed almost 1000% on Spotify and Apple Music, with “Swimming” reaching the #1 album on both platforms. This is a common trend after an artist passes away.  The album–somewhat swept under the rug due to its unfortunate release date (the same day as Travis Scott’s headlining “Astroworld”)–is a very reflective collection of songs and an overall smooth listening experience. Though its listens are being boosted post-mortem, the album is finally receiving the attention it deserved upon release.

Rest in peace Mac Miller, and let’s hope this tragedy helps prevent more in the future.