Mac Miller’s critical Days and also Life ~ Death

The 26-year-old superstar to be at his an innovative peak when he coincidentally overdosed. His friends and collaborators are still reeling


One week before his death, Mac Miller to be happy. On august 31st, the rapper invite the bassist Thundercat — a nearby friend and also collaborator — and his daughter, Sanaa, end to his Studio City, California, residence to invest the whole day celebrate the girl’s 12th birthday. “He refused no to celebrate it with us,” Thundercat recalls v a laugh. “He to be like, ‘What carry out I get her?’ ‘I dunno, part Gucci flip-flops?’ ” Miller treated his guests to dinner, sang “Happy Birthday” twice, and also then retirement to the couch, whereby the three friends spent the remainder of the night the town hall Sanaa’s favourite TV reflects — with Miller periodically stealing she phone and also trolling she Instagram and Snapchat feed. “The delight was there, man,” Thundercat says. “I can see the in him. And also it wasn’t fake.”

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It would be the critical time Thundercat would check out his girlfriend alive. On September 7th, shortly before noon, police police officers responded come a frantic 911 contact placed by Miller’s personal assistant and also longtime sober coach, who uncovered Miller’s lifeless human body in a bedroom in his sprawling, compound-like house moments earlier. The 26-year-old rapper — who topped the charts together an elevation teenage artist and championed and also befriended countless of hip-hop’s best talents, and whose job was characterized by a relentless desire to enhance his handmade — to be pronounced dead in ~ the scene. Follow to an autopsy report exit by the Los Angeles ar Coroner’s Office top top November 5th, Miller passed away of an inadvertently overdose. Fentanyl, cocaine and alcohol to be all current in his system. A bottle of alcohol and prescription pills were discovered in his home, and also a powdery white substance was uncovered on his person.

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According to witness declaration in the autopsy report, Miller was last viewed by his assistant roughly 10:30 p.m. ~ above September 6th, and also spoke come his mom on the phone that night. It was only when the assistant arrived the following morning — he typically woke Miller at 11:30 a.m. — and discovered Miller’s body the anyone close to him knew anything to be wrong.

Miller had long struggled with addiction. While he was attempting sobriety, that had constant “slip-ups,” follow to a explain in the autopsy report, that might be excessive. The last together incident prior to the night that his death, according to his assistant, had actually been ~ above September 4th, just three days before his death.

Miller openly debated his dependency on lean, a mix of codeine and promethazine. The peaked about the time he was making his 2012 mixtape, Macadelic. “He had actually sort of do a turn after the making of Blue on slide Park, whereby I think he acquired a little bit deeper right into drugs and also was talking around it,” claims Benjy Grinberg, the founder of independent Pittsburgh record label, Rostrum Records, that signed Miller come his first record transaction in 2010 and served together his de facto manager for number of years afterward. “It was certainly scary. I had never been the close come somebody who had worries like that.”

But for those closest to him, Miller’s fatality still came as a shock. By every accounts, he was in his best mental and also physical problem in years once he died. Miller had actually been working v his sober coach since 2016, and also was working out in ~ an L.A. Gym almost every day.

Two weeks before Miller’s death, Ty Dolla $ign, who was in the midst of working with him on a joint project, invested the day through Miller at Chalice recording Studios in L.A. “He to be in great spirits,” claims Ty, who an initial met the rapper with the pair’s mutual friendship with Miller’s onetime Rostrum labelmate Wiz Khalifa. “He had everybody in the room dying laughing.” Miller likewise met 5th Harmony member Dinah Jane because that the first time the day, “and she to be talking around how nice that was,” Ty remembers. “She didn’t think he to be gonna be that cool, but he to be supercool. I’m like, ‘Yeah, man. That’s Mac.’ “

When he learned the Miller’s passing, via text article while on tour in Tampa v G-Eazy and also Lil Uzi Vert, Ty broke down. “I went exterior of mine bus to shot to catch a breather,” he says. “I to be crying. And I don’t ever cry. Nobody watch me down choose that. That was the hardest work ever. The very first time i cried in years.” when he heard the news, Ty conveniently phoned Thundercat. “I had to tell him the news and also shit. He automatically broke down. He was like, ‘The last point he stated was, “Bro, I simply want to make it to tour.” ‘ “

Thundercat and also Miller had large plans because that the remainder of the year. He and Miller were set to struggle the roadway this autumn on a joint tour behind the rapper’s new album, Swimming, and, much more urgently, they had plans to shoot a interlocutor music video in mid-September for the collaborative track “What’s the Use?” A wide-ranging cast of celebrities and friends of Miller’s, native TV personality guy Fieri come Kehlani and Mac DeMarco, were set to do cameos dancing along to the song. “He just wanted civilization to recognize how tough he’d been working,” Thundercat says. “Up until the critical words we spoke to each other, it was nothing quick of pure excitement.”


Hundreds of fans mourn the fatality of rapper Mac Miller in ~ a public vigil held at Frick Park’s Blue on slide playground i m sorry he named his 2011 debut album after. Photograph credit: © Jason L. Nelson/AdMedia/ZUMA

On a late-July afternoon this year in Manhattan, miller met through me for among the first interviews he would give about Swimming. The was one of the first times he’d been out in public following his very publicized breakup with Ariana Grande, a tumultuous event made worse when, work later, Miller to be arrested on charges of DUI and hit-and-run after he accused crashed his Mercedes SUV right into a power pole close to his home and fled the scene. However Miller called me that, in spite of tabloid headlines complying with his arrest that suggested he’d fallen back into his drug-abusing ways, he’d learned to it is in the judge of his own reality. He claimed he was in a great place.

“Don’t gain me not correct — I record music like a fucking meth addict,” he followed up with a laugh. “But these people online thinking I’m super-fucked-up ~ above drugs once I’m not. . . . That’s no the worst point in the world. It just doesn’t seem that essential to me. Exactly how are girlfriend going to expect a bunch of civilization who are simply reading arbitrarily headlines or hearing about a DUI or presume you’re in a superdark, depressed place to form any other conclusions? ns can’t mean that anyone is walking to be like, ‘Nah. Malcolm, he’s a good person.’ “

In the main leading approximately this death, Miller did what he always did come block out the noise: He operated on music. The was already deep in rehearsals because that his upcoming tour, which was collection to attribute his dream band, consisting of Thundercat. “He do me want to gain on mine shit,” the bassist says. “Because I might see the in him. The wasn’t him playing the game. It to be him being 100 percent with it.”

“That’s the component that hurt the most,” the singer Miguel, that collaborated v Miller ~ above “Weekend,” among the greatest hits of their careers, says. “He had actually just placed this significant album out. He was prepared to walk on tour with among his really close friends. There was a lot in the air. He to be looking forward to miscellaneous new.”

Even after ~ Swimming’s release, on august 3rd, and also some the his most positive reviews the came v it, Mac to be already back at occupational on new music. He’d been in the studio through producer candid Dukes, and he and also Post Malone had plans to do an album together. “Mac never ever stopped working on music indigenous the minute I met him up to and also including the week the passed,” says his longtime producer, Eric “E. Dan” Dan. The producer an initial met Miller in ~ his i would Labs Studio in Pittsburgh as soon as the rapper was releasing self-funded mixtapes, and Dan walk on to work-related on every one of Miller’s projects. “I don’t think you’ll find anybody that would certainly tell girlfriend he to be anything but excited to walk on tour, happy to have an amazing and also well-received album out and also looking forward to the future.”

On respectable 5th, fearbut performed an intimate display at L.A’s Hotel Café because that a group of 100 or for this reason close friends and also family to celebrate his album release. The 10-song collection list the night ran v the rapper’s music native the recent past and also concluded through “2009,” a string-swelling monitor off swimming so personal that the rapper had once felt self-conscious around including the on the LP. “Now every day i wake up and also breathe/I don’t have actually it all, yet that’s all ideal with me,” müller sang prior to walking offstage.

Waiting for him in the wings to be Benjy Grinberg, one of his faster champions. Grinberg says he and also Miller hadn’t talked much in recent years, but “when he came offstage that night he gave me one of the nicest hugs I’ve ever before received and continued on come his environment-friendly room,” Grinberg says. “It was a yes, really nice minute for me.” It was the last time he experienced Miller: “Looking back, I’m happy that i at least had the chance to view him in human one an ext time.

“It still doesn’t feel real at all,” Grinberg adds. “I actually had actually a dream critical night that ns was at his wedding and also woke up and was like, ‘Damn.’ Honestly, i still feel a little bit numb.”

Long before he wanted to it is in a rapper, Miller, born Malcolm James McCormick to a photographer mother and also an architect father, was a natural-born an innovative spirit. So inventive to be a young Mac that his older brothers Miller would compare him to the main character in the children’s present Harold and also the violet Crayon. “He’s this boy who paint, etc his very own realities,” Mac said me in July, explicate the cartoon character. “I’ve constantly been into that kinda stuff.”

He started rapping at period 14, do a surname for himself on the Pittsburgh freestyle scene first as EZ Mac, before rebranding together Mac Miller. He connected with Grinberg and also Rostrum A&R guy Artie Pitt — that were to run the label, residence to rising regional star Khalifa — when he to be still a teen. Grinberg and also Pitt recall frequently running right into Miller at E. Dan’s identifier Labs. “He to be a go-getter and he knew what he wanted,” Pitt recalls the a teenage Miller. “And that’s a big part of gift a superstar, gift able to operation your very own ship. He had actually the vision because that it. I knew he was going come be that guy.”

With the release of his 2010 mixtape, K.I.D.S. (Kickin’ exceptionally Dope Shit), one 18-year-old Miller began attracting national attention, many thanks in part to the monitor “Kool help & Frozen Pizza,” which sampled the mr Finesse track “Hip 2 Da Game.” (In 2012, mr Finesse sued; he and Miller worked out later the year.) Miller’s beforehand raps were juvenile, yet sampling a hip-hop legend favor Finesse signaled to others that right here was a young male with a thank you respect and also curiosity because that hip-hop’s storied legacy. “He might have chosen any type of beat he wanted,” DJ A-Trak, who’d come to be friendly through Miller in the ensuing years, states of “Kool Aid,” “but to pick something together dope in the hip-hop sense as lord Finesse is together a cool an initial destination.”

The complying with year, Miller released his major-label debut, Blue on slide Park. It to be a substantial commercial success, the an initial independently distributed debut album to height the Billboard 200 because Tha Dogg Pound’s Dogg Food, in 1995. Doubters universally dismissed it, though, as insipid and unoriginal hip-hop. Miller was conveniently slotted into a cadre of other existing young white rappers, favor Asher Roth and also Sammy Adams, and also was derided as a “frat rapper.”

“He was never ever a frat rapper,” Pitt argues. “The music was never frat rap. Him and I had that conversation plenty of times.” This intense criticism, consisting of an well known 1.0 testimonial for Blue slide Park on Pitchfork, took its toll, but it eventuallly bolstered Miller’s an imaginative ambition. He soon relocated to L.A. And, an initial with 2012’s Macadelic and 2013’s the town hall Movies through the Sound Off, he began experimenting with inventive new sounds as well as producing his own music, often under the moniker Larry Fisherman. He additionally became a vital fixture in the L.A. Laboratory scene, forming friendships and collaborating through artists including Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples and also Schoolboy Q, in enhancement to much more experimental, jazz-indebted musicians like Thundercat and the psychedelic DJ-producer flying Lotus.


Mac Miller and also Miguel perform together throughout the Powow at the Okeechobee Music Festival in Okeechobee, Florida. Picture credit: © Daniel DeSlover/ZUMA

“It’s awesome, man,” Miller told me in 2013. “All that us, we’re every making music together, us all enjoy each other’s music and push each other to carry out better.Personally, ns think the many talented civilization in music right now are the human being coming v my studio.”

That was likewise when the rapper began using harder drugs. Having frequently accompanied that on the road, Pitt states he harbors regret around this time in Miller’s life, and he has actually the sense he can have done more to help. “I was always worried around him at the time,” Pitt says. “I carry some guilt in my heart also up until now. I perform struggle through it a bit when i think about it. I guess I always thought that it would be under control.”

Miller’s drug use was reflected in the music. His jazzy 2013 mixtape,Faces, opens up with the rapper pondering his very own death: “I shoulda died already, shit/Yeah, ns shoulda passed away already/Came in, ns was high already.” on “God Speed,” one of the many revealing tracks on his 2015 major-label debut, GO:OD AM, which he released after signing a label address Warner Bros. Worth a report $10 million, fearbut raps, “White lines be numbing lock dark times/Them pills that I’m popping, I require to man up/Admit it’s a problem/I require a wake-up/Before one morning ns don’t wake up.”

For Miller, music was a form of link — to various people, sounds and, often, himself. “That’s what’s most necessary — I want the totality body of work-related to feel choose it’s me,” Miller claimed in July. “I speak v my music. So when human being say, ‘How’s he doing?’ I have the right to just say, ‘Listen to the music.’ that should have the ability to tell you.”

Mac’s trajectory to be one of continuous musical evolution, and even after his early reinvention native precocious party rap to avant garde experimentation, he would certainly switch course again. 2016’s divine Feminine significant a third act come his creative career. That featured live instrumentation and funky grooves, was conveniently his most beatific and also optimistic work yet. It’s likewise when he started singing much more prominently on his albums. “My only goal to be to proceed to gain better,” the told Rolling rock that year. “That’s all I desire to do.”

Swimming, released three months ago, remained in the exact same sonic vein as magnificent Feminine, however it marked a step forward. That featured some of the many wrenching and, in ~ times, pains sad lyrics of his career. However its music, all orchestral swells and swishy keyboards, felt prefer a clear and also cohesive statement from an artist more comfortable than ever in his ambition. And also the album’s diverse roster the collaborators, from john Mayer and also Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes to Jon Brion, to be prime signs of the respect Miller had steadily earned indigenous his peers. “Just the pure artistic growth and achievement itself is commendable,” A-Trak says. “Sure, early on some human being didn’t desire to offer him his due, but he persevered through that and also just maintained his head down. You need to respect that.”

Since Miller’s death, the civilization who knew him have actually been passionate to share what kind of human being he was. “He was always polite to everybody,” Ty Dolla $ign says. “Spoke to everybody as shortly as he come in the room. Would certainly shake everybody’s hand. That was just a supernice dude. Nobody that i know deserve to say something bad around him.”

On that the many touching tributes come from Ariana Grande, Miller’s ex-girlfriend, who took to Instagram to short article a candid video clip of that a main after his death. “i adored you from the day ns met you when i to be nineteen and i always will,” she wrote. “we talked about this. So plenty of times. I’m so mad, i’m for this reason sad ns don’t recognize what come do.” Grande would later reference fearbut in her latest single, the Billboard-topping “thank u, next.” “Wish I can say, ‘Thank you’ to Malcolm,” she sings. “‘Cause he was an angel.”

“Beyond helping me launch my career he was among the sweetest males I ever before knew,” opportunity the Rapper wrote on Twitter. “Great man. Ns loved him because that real. I’m totally broken. God bless him.” Mayer created on Instagram, “You gotta know that if girlfriend weren’t familiar with Mac Miller, friend were about to be, whether you would have seen him in ~ a festival, or a girlfriend was walking to catch a show and also tell anyone they knew around it (like ns did.) Mac put in the work.”

Elton john paid tribute to Miller top top the opening display of his farewell tour, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the night after ~ Miller’s passing. The singer devoted “Don’t permit the sunlight Go down on Me” to the rapper. “Unbelievably, 26 years of age, and also passed far yesterday,” the legend said prior to launching right into one that his most recognized songs. “It’s inconceivable the someone so young, and also with so lot talent, might do that.”

“He would’ve gotten a vast kick out of someone together random and also iconic as Elton john dedicating a track to him,” E. Dan says.

“It renders me happy that he acquired to put this critical album out and see exactly how well-received that was,” the adds, “but exceptionally sad the I understand he had actually so much much more to to speak musically and would continue to amaze united state all.”

Miller was conscious that, also as he remained in the middle of developing each the his imaginative statements with his friends and peers, it was he alone who was responsible because that his in its entirety legacy.

“You ultimately realize you’re the just variable,” Miller claimed a couple of weeks prior to he died. “The only distinction is you. That’s why you need to be that honest. You placed so lot of yourself right into what girlfriend do. Because in the finish you’re the only thing that’s different. You’re the only thing the sets it apart.”

“Who to know what the perception of me is in ~ this point?” he admitted come me in 2016. “To it is in honest, i don’t also know anymore. For a if it was like, ‘Oh, he’s a affluent white kid,’ i m sorry is false. Climate it was ‘He’s a medicine addict,’ which was up because that interpretation. In ~ this point, I just want my music to it is in it. Just go there. As time go on, civilization may or might not obtain the idea. But they don’t require to. Every they must do is listen.”

“It’s to be tough. Yes, really tough,” Thundercat tells Rolling rock on a late-October afternoon. The bassist have to be embarking on the begin of a civilization tour through his friend, however instead he’s still emotionally reeling, six weeks after ~ Miller’s passing. “But ns don’t want to shut out the world. Sometimes acquiring together can help bring closure, or at least a bit of solace.” A few days later, he did exactly that.


Dylan Reynolds, chance the Rapper, Njomza, Miguel, J.I.D, Ty Dolla $ign, SZA, Anderson Paak, john Mayer, Karen Myers, David Byrnes, Kelly Clancy, mark McCormick, and Christian Clancy onstage throughout “Mac Miller: A solemn event Of Life” Concert services The start Of The Mac miller Circles fund at The Greek Theatre ~ above October 31, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Photo credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

On Halloween night, at the Greek theatre in Los Angeles, a star-studded lineup to be assembled — indigenous Miller’s nearby friends (Vince Staples, SZA, Earl Sweatshirt) to his collaborators (Mayer, Miguel) and admirers of his artistry (Travis Scott, Rae Sremmurd) — for a sold-out tribute concert in his honor. Miller had actually been booked to show up there for very early stop top top his swimming tour. As soon as he died, his team preserved the venue because that an possibility to reflect on his legacy.

“I would have done anything the asked me come do, and he would have done the same,” Anderson .Paak speak Rolling rock in the work leading approximately the show. He had promised Miller that he’d join him onstage that night to carry out their magnificent Feminine participation “Dang!” Instead, the musician performed alone in ~ a drum kit, v Miller’s vocals piped in with the PA. Prior to launching right into their song, .Paak eulogized his so late friend. “I’ve to be blessed enough that mine closest friends, they’re tho here,” that said. “I understand if you’re in this industry a while, or you simply live life long enough, you’ll see civilization come and also go. However this one was really heavy for me. The was my friend.”

The concert lasted 3 hours. There were performances and tributes and also testimonials native a generation-spanning range of celebrities and also collaborators. What lock each had to say — native Pharrell Williams to Lil Wayne, DJ Jazzy Jeff to DJ Premier, Donald Glover come Dev Hynes — to be overwhelmingly positive, and hard to listen to.

But it to be Miller, viewed smiling in behind-the-scenes videos spanning his whole career, that noted the brightest light.

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There was Mac goofing approximately backstage, hamming it up together he sang Creed songs in the studio, sharing quite than receiving wisdom with Rick Rubin (“I just make whatever I desire to make, and then I shot to fight for it, i guess”). And, together the night drew to a close, over there he was, in a an easy clip most likely shot top top his smartphone, seated at a piano through himself, singing an unreleased song. The wasn’t choose his typical fare — an ext Randy Newman 보다 Rakim — hinting in ~ yet another artistic reinvention top top the horizon, however it was every little as earnest and also affecting and also vulnerable together his ideal work. “I wonder if they even cared at all,” fearbut sang. The crowd was silent, enraptured. They did care, still carry out and constantly will.