No celebrity death has ever affected me the way Mac Miller's did last September. I was in shock, I cried, I reminisced. I was surprised at how hurt I felt. I wasn't fully aware of how deep the connection created through music and art can run.
When I first began listing to his music it was a bit of a guilty pleasure. Fun raps about being a teenager and having a good time. But as he got older his music got more personal and he became an artist I never would've predicted.
"I’m too obsessed with going down as a great one" - Perfect Circle/God Speed
What I admired most about him was his desire to constantly be better. With every album, he pushed himself to new limits, explored new sounds, and got even more personal. He was just a year or two older than me so in his journey I saw a kindred spirit. I've always tried to be a little better every day. At my vocation and with myself. His journey taught me where you begin doesn't determine where you finish.
"I don't have it all but that's alright with me" - 2009
His last album, Swimming, was his best body of work yet. Just as each preceding album was until the next. A beautiful ode to being okay with being okay. Yet another lesson about self-care and inner peace delivered over lush instrumentals and orchestral arrangements. It was another leap forward. I found myself repeatedly listening to the entire album for months in awe of his growth.
"The world is so small 'til it ain't" - Small Worlds
When the news broke it felt like a plot line had been abruptly resolved with none of the payoffs I expected. Where would he have gone next? How would have he continued to improve? Most of all it hurt me to see his journey cut short before it was fully recognised. In today's age we expect artists to emerge perfect, we have little patience to watch someone grow. He never got the chance to receive all the plaudits he deserved. Recognition isn't everything but we so rarely fully appreciate good when it's still with us.
"Do you want it all if it's all mediocre?
Staring at the wall and the wall's full of posters
Lookin' at my dreams, who I wanna be
I guess you gotta see it to believe"- Small Worlds
It feels like I've lost a north star that guided my own journey. Someone who grew up alongside me. That's the amazing thing about honesty. Honesty in the light and dark of life. It can connect people who never knew each other. He was one of the posters on my wall, seeing him made me believe I could be better too.
They say a person only truly dies when the last person who knew them passes. I think that should be amended to when the last person to be impacted by them passes. True immortality is having your impact extend beyond your own life. However small or big that impact is. Whatever success I find I think it will be owed in some measure to the impact his work had on my life.
"We don't see no lines, we don't color inside" - Ladders
His passing has made me put the lessons I've learnt from him into effect. Everything good starts with honesty. I hope to infuse my work with the same level of honesty he did. It's cathartic but also the only way to create work that can connect at a human level.
Today he would've been 27. Happy Birthday Mac and thank you for sharing yourself with the world.