If I Jump, Let Me Fall: Remembering Mac Miller (1992-2018)

Steven Louis commemorates the life and career of the late Pittsburgh rapper/producer.
By    September 11, 2018

Art by Kmeron

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Steven Louis‘ head is banging like Metallica.

Mac Miller rapped about dying from a drug overdose. A lot.

“I shoulda died already / Came in I was high already”

“I’m the only suicidal motherfucker with a smile on / Let’s hold hands and sing the bible, that’s a violent song … Oh I’m the bomb / Literally, back away, I’m the bomb, ka-blow!”

“Kill me now if I did it all for hip-hop / I might die before I detox”

“A bunch of poison in my bloodstream / Now it’s getting ugly, I must be another junkie / How lucky am I to still be alive?”

“Smoked dust, overdosed on the sofa, dead”

To everyone who sell me drugs / Don’t mix it with that bullshit I’m hoping not to join the 27 club”

“If by chance this is my grand finale, bury me in Allegheny County”

“Wondering how I got this high / Fell asleep and forgot to die, goddamn”

“Cause I’m speedin’ with a blindfold on and won’t be long, til they watching me crash / And they don’t wanna see that / They don’t want me to OD and have to talk to my mother, telling her they could have done more to help me / And she’ll be crying saying that she’ll do anything to have me back…”

“It’s a beautiful feeling, in oblivion, yeah yeah” – from inside a coffin, carving out “MEMENTO MORI” with a switchblade, in what would be his final music video

Mac was acutely aware of his downfall. He was specific and thorough in his examination of addiction and mortality. We all think about death in the abstract; Mac found an art, or even a performative therapy, in rifling off his predictions for it. Those predictions were devastatingly accurate. A young man with a big heart, a big brain and enough charm to feel humanly indestructible. Maybe Mac Miller couldn’t sit still. Maybe his brain and nervous system couldn’t stop roaring, igniting, dreaming. The banality of life, of existence, of self, is something worth fighting. Mac waged that war like it meant everything.

After the success of Swimming, Mac was set to tour with Thundercat and J.I.D. He just played the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood. It sounds like he was in great spirits and in contact with those close to him. For a high-functioning user, an overdose could be as much of a random accident as a truck running a red light, or slipping and falling off a ladder, or the heart suddenly failing. The banality of existence won. The outcomes are so damn fragile.

The theme of Mac Miller’s music was freedom, from the laid-back stoner rap to the jazzy, textured dismantling of psychic apparatus. Being free to create, to feel, without restriction. It was always about freedom. A righteous sense of independence, the gravity of being able to do whatever the fuck you want to do in this world. By all accounts, Mac did what the fuck he wanted to do, living out fantasies with boyish enthusiasm, while always cognizant of his privilege and striving for self-improvement.

Mac was 26. I’m 25. It’s hard not to feel attached to the journey, somehow.

Thank you for K.I.D.S, low-stakes boom-bap that I nevertheless came to appreciate as it soundtracked damn near every high school party.

Thank you for Blue Slide Park. For real. That was the first independently-distributed debut to go No. 1 in 15 years. You pulled that shit off at 19! It was also the fulcrum of your ceaseless quest to better your craft & challenge yourself.

Thank you for Watching Movies With the Sound Off. “Aquarium” is a fucking beautiful song unspooled from a curious mind, one that makes me feel both weightless & cosmically unnerved every time I hear it.

Thank you for Faces, which saw you going full Hunter S. Thompson as I learned what writing and music and romance and obsessive-compulsive disorder felt like while faded. “I took acid in San Francisco / Stripped butt-naked, caused a Panic at the Disco” is an all-time hook, end of discussion.

Thank you for GO:OD AM, which steered me through Brooklyn as we both assumed more of the responsibilities & contradictions of adulthood. God fucking dammit, thank you so much for GO:OD AM.

Thank you for The Divine Feminine. “Dang” should probably be my wedding song.

Thank you for Swimming, your most assured & seamless work to date. You made another leap. The walls keep getting wider, I hope you never find them. You told us that you knew what was behind that door.

Thank you for all this music. I’d like to think that you’re on to something bigger, meant for something more. We fuck it all up down here, with our solipsism, our fear, our fidgeting humanness. We’re left to assign meaning and make sense of your loss. We need it to mean something. So it goes. Memento mori, indeed.

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