I don’t know how many of you follow John Mayer on his social media accounts, but he has a habit of sharing other artists that he thinks are worth sharing.
But earlier this week, one of Mayer’s personal shout-outs immediately struck me as different. Across my Instagram feed came a picture of Mac Miller, full of colour and energy.
“This was going to be Mac Miller’s Year,” read the caption.
“He made a quantum leap in his music. You don’t get there without a lot of work, and Mac had put the work in.” The past tense of the opening sentence hit me like a tonne of bricks.
The tribute is lengthy and one of many that have poured out over the last few days; it’s not hard to see the impact that Mac Miller had on the world and the loss that’s being felt by so many. Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, Sir Elton John and Liam Gallagher are just some of the artists who have offered their thoughts on his passing, even dedicating performances to him.
With a story like Miller’s, it’s hard not to see why. He began rapping at the age of 15, both solo and with various groups. By 17, he had a record deal. His mix-tape K.I.D.S, released in 2010, was a breakout success. The subsequent tour sold out every venue. From that moment on, Miller’s life was a whirlwind of awards, best-selling albums and hugely popular tours. Collaborators on his music include Tyler, the Creator, Pharrell Williams and Anderson .Paak, with many more musicians speaking highly of his work. That’s to say nothing of Miller’s legions of fans, who have lapped up every release and sang along to every word of his live performances.
Miller’s success was not without its tribulations. His personal struggles have often turned public, including arrests for DUI and drug possession. It’s hardly a secret that the heights of Miller’s fame became difficult to deal with. He would often cite paparazzi and the constant presence of fans as a source of great stress. While nothing can really excuse Miller’s behaviour (former partner Ariana Grande has described their relationship as toxic, in no uncertain terms), it’s clear that success was something that he had to cope with, rather than something he celebrated.
It seemed, however, that Miller was beginning to turn a new leaf. He spent a few months this year almost entirely off the grid following his breakup with Grande. He claims he’d been using that time to get himself together and figure out what his next move would have been.
Swimming, Miller’s newest (and now last) album, dropped on August 3 to rave reviews. Mayer’s tribute shares the sentiments that many fans have had:
“If you weren’t familiar with Mac Miller, you were about to be. He made is best album and formed the band that was weeks away from becoming a breakout live sensation. Believe me when I say that.”
No one knows what would have happened if Miller was still here, but it’s clear that his music had quite an impact on the people who had already discovered it.