Mac Miller’s fifth and final studio album, Swimming, is a near perfect record.
But the great irony of this revelation is that if he were still alive, I might never have heard it. That’s why the Pittsburg artist’s final release was such a bittersweet discovery for me—because up until the day he died, I’d never taken the time to listen to his music.
The fact that he died of an accidental overdose at only 26-years-old, and just one month and four days after the release of his fifth record seemed so unfair. Just yesterday, that reality hit even harder with reports that a 28-year-old had been arrested in relation to his death. According to prosecutors, Miller was unknowingly sold counterfeit oxycodone pills that contained a deadly mix of fentanyl, Xanax and cocaine.
Listening to the lyrics on songs like ‘Self Care’, ‘Hurt Feelings’ and album highlight, ‘2009’, it feels both eerie and cruel that these were his final words. ‘Yeah, they ask me what I’m smilin’ for / Well, because I’ve never been this high before / It’s like I never felt alive before’, he sings on the hope-soaked track, ‘2009’, before referring to himself as an angel. On ‘Self Care’, he’s ‘got all the time in the world, so for now I’m just chillin’.’
It’s a record about heartbreak, defeat, addiction, and the light at the end of the tunnel. Clicking on an embedded video at the bottom of a tribute article on September 7 last year is what lead me to one of my all-time favourite records. The video was of Mac Miller’s NPR Tiny Desk concert just a few weeks before he died. If you haven’t seen that performance, please, allow me to do the honours:
Whoa. What a talent. So effortlessly cool, so uniquely himself. Anyway, on the first anniversary of his death, I just wanted to pay homage to a great artist and a great record. I hope that this article makes someone who has never taken the time to listen to his music finally give it a shot, just like I did one year ago. I promise you’ll be better for it.
RIP Mac Miller: 19th January, 1992 – 7th September, 2018.