Exploring the shock behind Mac Miller’s untimely death
I know I wasn’t the only one who was shocked when I learned of Mac Miller’s death on Twitter yesterday. My timeline was inundated with “RIP” and “I can’t believe it”. With most of my peers, I’ve been listening to Mac Miller since he released “KIDS” in 2010. We were there for Blue slide park, his first studio album released in 2011. We were there for his transition to a legitimate hip-hop artist who was cemented by his 2013 joint project with Vince Staples, “Stolen Youth”. And we were there for his 2014 project Faces in which he raps about drug addiction or mental health issues in almost every song. So why were we all so surprised when we found out that he had died of an overdose?
Of course, it’s natural to be shocked when someone you love passes away, especially so young. When Mac Miller burst onto the scene with “KIDS,” his rhymes were upbeat, happy, and fresh. He had just graduated from high school, and that was part of his image: a young, happy kid, fresh on the stage, with nowhere to go but to get on. This could be one of the reasons it was so surprising to learn that he was gone. Looks like just yesterday he was rapping about Kool-Aid and frozen pizza.
However, it is simply unrealistic to say that his substance abuse issues were completely unknown to the public. After his split from Ariana Grande last spring, Miller was charged with drunk driving after crashing his car. Grande also mentioned his sobriety issues in a Twitter post about their breakup: “I took care of him and tried to support his sobriety and prayed for his balance for years (and I did. always will of course) but I’m ashamed / blaming women for a man. the inability to keep his shit together is a very big issue. ” So, again, with all that is going on, why have we been shocked?
This shock is part of another larger pattern within the hip-hop community. Hip-hop consumers often dismiss the topic of addiction as an integral part of rap music, something that we have to accept and consider so that we can appreciate other aspects of the genre. It’s easy to convince yourself that addiction is something that will always be prevalent in rap; that it is simply a victim of creativity or genius. Not only is this wrong, it is a dangerous way to view addiction. It is absolutely necessary that we begin to criticize this way of thinking.
In a complex 2012 article titled “25 Things Everyone Thinks About Hip-Hop (But No One Will)” the ninth item on the list states that “substance abuse is one of the most serious problems in the industry”. In addition, in a 2017 interview with Billboard, Chicago rapper Vic Mensa opened up about the links between drug use and rap: “I just think we’re in such a dangerous place now because it’s been normalized and drug abuse has been reduced to a marketing tactic. ”
As a culture, it is imperative that we continue criticisms like these and stop accepting addiction in those we love and admire. This does not mean that we should shame drug addicts. But we need to start questioning the culture of addiction that exists within the music industry. before it’s too late.