Remembering Mac Miller: A career marked by versatility, ingenuity


Adrian Gonzalez / Hilltop Views

Miller in Austin during his 2016 ‘The Divine Feminine’ tour.

Hip-hop artist and record producer Malcolm James McCormick, better known by his performing name Mac Miller, tragically died at the age of 26 of an apparent drug overdose on Sept. 7.

Coming as a devastating surprise, the legacy and respected reputation Miller built throughout his career was deeply felt among not only the entertainment industry but to those who supported Miller’s music.

Hailing from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Miller always showed passion for music as he taught himself how to play several instruments ranging from piano to bass. Miller began rapping at the age of 14 and would go on to release several praised mixtapes that would start to gain him serious traction.

It was not until the 2010 release of his first label mixtape “K.I.D.S” when Miller began experiencing his first glimpse of actual fame. With songs “Nikes on My Feet,” “Senior Skip Day” and the smash-hit “Knock Knock,” the breakout mixtape attracted listeners with the college-party, energetic style.

A year later, Miller released his debut studio album “Blue Slide Park,” which went No.1 on the Billboard 200 within its first week. The album title pays homage to the beloved park from Miller’s childhood. Fan-favorites include “Party on Fifth Ave,” “Smile Back” and one of his most recognizable tunes, “Missed Calls.” This particular song is interesting; it allowed Miller to showcase his versatility with both rapping and singing.

A couple of successful albums and mixtapes later, Miller continued crafting his skills as an artist by distancing himself from his original style of music. He instead focused on singing as well as working with a soothing-rap style with gentle instrumentals.

In 2016, Miller released his fourth studio album “The Divine Feminine” which had impressive guest features like Miguel, Anderson, Paak, Cee Lo Green and, his girlfriend at the time, Ariana Grande. This album introduced a softer side of Miller; the album primarily explored love and sincerity rather than just delivering bangers.

His last album, “Swimming,” released on Aug. 3 — just over a month before his death. The tone of this album is different as it deals with the pain of lost love and the 26-year-old’s mental struggles. Miller, who was open about his drug addiction, invested his personal thoughts and emotions into this project– peaking to the third spot on the Billboard Top 200.

Beyond just music, Miller’s charm and humor earned him a spot in the hearts of many. On Sept. 11, hundreds of fans gathered at his once beloved “Blue Slide Park” for a hometown vigil to commemorate the life of Malcolm McCormick. Lit with candles and his timeless classics, the vigil allowed supporters a final goodbye to one of hip-hop’s most beloved figures.