Arts Spotlight: R.I.P Mac Miller – but why?

Illustration by Edna Teng

Moss Bioletti explains his thoughts on Mac Miller’s recent death


Mac Miller, wow, where to begin? I guess some context for people who don’t know him. He taught himself how to play the piano like a pro at a very young age. He was a label friend of Wiz Khalifa on Rostrum Records, an indie label out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He built his fanbase predominately online by releasing free mixtapes drenched in adolescence. After gaining some traction online he acquired a booking agent and started touring relentlessly across North America and things just kept getting bigger.

To me, the most coherent and enjoyable album in Mac’s extensive discography is “GO:OD Am”. Why? Because you can listen to the whole thing in one go without having to skip any weak songs like on most albums. Having said that, his last album which was just recently released has a really beautiful song on it called ‘2009’ which has a beautiful lush string arrangement with Mac as per usual lamenting his descent into his vices.

It’s worth noting as an artist, Mac was jealous of other artists whom he perceived as having released a classic album. One particular artist, some awful rapper (imo) that was one of Mac’s contemporaries, fell out with him over releasing a perceived classic album in Mac’s eyes. The name of the album and rapper escapes me, but I remember streaming it online and it left me feeling short of nothing, perhaps it was a surefire classic, but I doubt it! I back my taste in music. Mac’s GO:OD album to me comes in as the closest thing he made to a classic album but to be fair I haven’t waded through all Mac’s music so, strictly speaking, I’m not the most reliable judge.

However, just looking at that title of GO:OD you can see quite clearly the letters “OD”. Personally, I don’t know a lot about the meaning of the title but his fans offer up two possible meanings, the obvious Mac endorsed meaning of; ‘yes it stands for good morning’ or the much darker ‘go overdose probably’ by a more sinister fan (albeit these comments were written years ago).

Regardless of what happened to Mac in terms of the possibility of foul play, what is clear is that he had a severe drug problem. His pick of all the poisons that his luxurious lifestyle offered up was the rather banal ‘cough syrup’ or promethazine/codeine. The same drug Post Malone a grieving friend of Mac Miller also sings about in his song ‘Zack and Codeine’. One of the appeals of the drug is the sweetness of the concoction alone. When you combine the cough syrup with Sprite and chuck in some candy which most people do, the whole thing makes you feel like a euphoric little kid I would imagine. Apparently, the taste makes your mouth feel funny and sweet for a long time as well. Numerous slang terms include purple drank, sizzurp, lean, barre, purple jelly, Texas tea, dirty, Sprite and Tsikuni. I’d strongly suggest everyone to stay away from this highly addictive drug that caused Mac’s ruin.

French Montana made a memorable remark about Mac’s ‘relationship’ with codeine. Montana stated “you know I enjoyed a bit of lean now and then, but man he was batshit crazy on the stuff. He would bring a whole Sprite bottle and mix it all up with his cough syrup and then start ping-ponging off the walls. It actually got so bad that I had to call him up on his drug use, like an intervention, as we were getting no work done in the studio. When we confronted him about his substance problem he shrugged it off and said he had it all under control” (a liberal hyperbole power-phrase). Clearly, he didn’t.

It’s a great shame Mac died as he was a great artist. However, I believe Ariana Grande in the words she spoke about her relationship with Mac as one that was truly toxic, with her constantly trying to help him and his mental health from going down the yellow brick road was not enough. I mean Ariana Grande is a singer, not a trained psychologist. I am sure she did more than enough and perhaps much more in that she had to try and tackle and neutralize Mac’s addiction problems, which would’ve inevitably taken a toll on her. When she couldn’t help him anymore, it’s understandable that people can only help a damaged person so much before they themselves get damaged, with the wheels falling off in a big way. But to me, I am not surprised by Mac’s death.

Behind the tooth grin and funny smiles, I believe lurked a very sad and damaged person. He wasn’t unlike Prince, another self-taught artist who just like Mac was extremely proficient on the piano and self-taught, and who also died recently of a drug overdose. Both artists also achieved a high level of fame. Both have vast back catalogs and made deeply musical albums. However, in my opinion, what I fear they both had in common that lead to their inevitable downfall was a case of malignant narcissism. This would account for their terrible drug addictions and very bad interpersonal relationships. If you have tried being a friend or in a relationship with a narcissist you will see the common factor is a life that revolved around themselves to the detriment of all others. That’s why I don’t really grieve too heavily for poor old Mac. This is because I think the person that was most heavily invested in his own untimely end is no longer with us. I have to imagine he is finally at peace and is no longer troubled by whatever childhood trauma viciously and destructively fragmented his ego and sense of self.

P.s – if you have a chance check out Mac’s pseudonymous jazz-rap album if you can. Titled; “Larry Lovestein & the Velvet Revival”. Even my Dad liked that album.