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Mac Miller

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Mac Miller
Mac Miller (7) – splash! Festival 20 (2017) (cropped).jpg
Miller performing in February 2017
Born
Malcolm James McCormick

(1992-01-19)January 19, 1992
DiedSeptember 7, 2018(2018-09-07) (aged 26)
Cause of deathAccidental drug overdose
Other names
  • Delusional Thomas
  • Easy Mac
  • Larry Fisherman
  • Larry Lovestein
  • The Velvet Revival
Occupation
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Years active2007–2018
Musical career
GenresHip hop
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • drums
  • guitar
  • piano
Labels
Associated acts
Websitemacmillerswebsite.com

Malcolm James McCormick (January 19, 1992 – September 7, 2018), known professionally as Mac Miller, was an American rapper, songwriter, and record producer. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Miller began his career in the city's hip hop scene in 2007, at the age of fifteen. In 2010, he signed a record deal with Pittsburgh-based independent label Rostrum Records, with whom he had his breakthrough with the mixtapes K.I.D.S. (2010) and Best Day Ever (2011).

Miller's debut studio album, Blue Slide Park (2011), topped the US Billboard 200, the first independently distributed album to top the chart since 1995. In 2013, Miller founded his own record label imprint, REMember Music. After his second studio album, Watching Movies with the Sound Off (2013), he left Rostrum and signed with the major label Warner Bros. Records in October 2014. With them, he released three studio albums: GO:OD AM (2015), The Divine Feminine (2016), and Swimming (2018). For Swimming, he was posthumously nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. He also served as a record producer for various artists, including himself, under the pseudonym Larry Fisherman.

Miller struggled with substance abuse, which was often referenced in his lyrics.[1]

Life and career

1992–2010: Early life and career beginnings

Malcolm James McCormick was born on January 19, 1992,[2] in Point Breeze, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[3] He was a son of Karen Meyers, a photographer, and Mark McCormick, an architect,[4] and had an older brother, Miller.[5] His mother is Jewish, and his father is Christian.[6] While he and his brother were raised Jewish,[3][7] he attended a Catholic grade school to "ensure a good education and a chance to play football and lacrosse."[3] He later went to Winchester Thurston School,[8] and graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School.[9]

A self-taught musician, Miller played piano, guitar, drums, and bass by the age of six.[9][10] He first started rapping at the age of fourteen.[11] Before that, he wanted to be a singer.[12] In high school, he decided to focus on his hip hop career, later noting, "Once I hit 15, I got real serious about it and it changed my life completely ... I used to be into sports, play all the sports, go to all the high school parties. But once I found out hip-hop is almost like a job, that's all I did."[10] He originally went by the name Easy Mac and released the mixtape But My Mackin' Ain't Easy in 2007 at the age of fifteen.[2] By 2009, he established himself as Mac Miller, and released two mixtapes: The Jukebox: Prelude to Class Clown and The High Life.[2] At the 2010 Pittsburgh Hip Hop Awards, Miller won 21 & Under of the Year, and Best Hip Hop Video for "Live Free".[13]

2010–2013: Breakthrough and Blue Slide Park

Miller performing at the NYC Governor's Ball in 2011.

Miller signed with the independent label Rostrum Records in July 2010, in the lead-up to his mixtape K.I.D.S.[14] Rostrum president Benjy Grinberg met Miller while recording with Wiz Khalifa at ID Labs.[15] Although Grinberg started giving Miller advice, he did not show interest in getting involved with his career until Miller began work on K.I.D.S., when he "noticed a maturation in his sound and approach to his music."[15] By that point Miller had started attracting interest from other record companies, but chose Rostrum due to its location in his hometown and association with Wiz Khalifa.[15] K.I.D.S. was released by Rostrum in August 2010.[10] During this time, Miller broke through with a focus on social media engagement, digital sales, and persistent touring, due to a lack of radio airplay or mainstream features.[16]

In February 2011, Miller was one of eleven rappers featured in XXL's annual "Freshman Class" list of that year.[17][18] In March 2011, Miller released his fifth mixtape, Best Day Ever.[19] The single "Donald Trump" became his first song to chart on the US Billboard Hot 100,[20] peaking at number 75,[21] and received a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[22] Also in March 2011, he released a six-track EP, On and On and Beyond, which became his first entry into the US Billboard 200 albums chart at number 55.[23] In October 2011, Miller released a 13-song mixtape, I Love Life, Thank You.

Miller's debut studio album, Blue Slide Park, released on November 8, 2011.[24] With 144,000 first week sales, it debuted atop the Billboard 200, the first independently distributed album to do so since Tha Dogg Pound's 1995 Dogg Food.[25] Three songs from the album, "Smile Back", "Frick Park Market", and "Party on Fifth Ave." charted on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 55, 60, and 64, respectively.[21] Blue Slide Park was certified gold in the United States and Canada.[26][27]

On March 23, 2012, Miller released his seventh mixtape, Macadelic.[28] Its single, "Loud", peaked at number 53 on the Billboard Hot 100.[21] In mid-2012, Miller premiered two songs produced by Pharrell Williams, from a planned collaboration EP, Pink Slime.[29] At least ten tracks were completed by August 2012 according to Miller,[29] but the project was not released despite a multi-year effort.[30][31] Miller released an EP, You, under the alias Larry Lovestein & The Velvet Revival on November 21, 2012. Rather than rap, the EP features Miller crooning over lounging jazz instrumentals.[32]

Miller on The Space Migration Tour in October 2013

In early 2013, Miller founded the record label imprint REMember Music, named after a friend who died.[33][34] Miller was featured on a six-episode reality series, Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family, on MTV2. It followed the production of his upcoming second studio album, Watching Movies with the Sound Off, and premiered on February 26, 2013.[35] On March 4, 2013, Miller released a mixtape, Run-On Sentences Vol. 1, solely featuring instrumentals made by himself, under his production alias Larry Fisherman.[36] Later that month, Miller featured on actress and singer Ariana Grande's lead single "The Way" for her debut album Yours Truly;[37] the song is Miller's highest peak on the Billboard Hot 100 at number nine, and was certified triple platinum by the RIAA.[21][22]

Watching Movies with the Sound Off released on June 18, 2013, to generally positive reviews, with most critics praising his new psychedelic sound. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, selling 102,000 copies in its first week.[38] The album spawned three singles; "S.D.S.", "Watching Movies" and "Goosebumpz". The album featured guest appearances from Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler, the Creator, Action Bronson and Jay Electronica.[39][40] According to Miller, the album is "very introspective and very personal so it's kind of throwing it all out there and seeing what happens."[41]

In collaboration with Vince Staples, Miller produced the mixtape Stolen Youth.[42] Under the moniker Delusional Thomas, Miller self-produced and released an eponymous mixtape, Delusional Thomas, on October 31, 2013.[43] On December 17, 2013, Miller released the live album, Live from Space, recorded during his Space Migration Tour.[44]

2014–2018: GO:OD AM, The Divine Feminine, and Swimming

Miller parted ways with Rostrum Records when his contract expired in January 2014.[45] On May 11, 2014, Miller independently released his tenth solo mixtape, Faces.[46] Colin Stutz of Billboard wrote that the 24-track mixtape "shows [Miller] introspective, ruminating over his drug use, fame and past."[46] Pitchfork's Craig Jenkins called Faces his "most consistently honest and personal work to date".[47] Miller later reflected on Faces, noting his drug-addled lifestyle while recording it.[48] The second season of Miller's reality series Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family aired on MTV2 in mid-2014.[49]

In October 2014, Miller signed a recording contract and distribution deal for REMember Music with the major label, Warner Bros. Records, for a reported US$10 million.[50] Miller's first studio album with Warner Bros., GO:OD AM, was released on September 18, 2015.[51] It debuted at number four on the Billboard 200, with 87,000 album-equivalent units.[52] The album and the single "Weekend", featuring American singer Miguel, were certified gold and platinum by the RIAA, respectively.[22][53]

Miller performing at the 2017 Splash! festival in Germany.

Miller began work on his next studio album immediately after completing GO:OD AM, wanting to explore the emotion of love.[54][55] The Divine Feminine released on September 16, 2016.[56] The album features Miller singing nearly as much as rapping, and incorporates genres such as R&B, jazz and funk.[55] It received positive reviews, with Pitchfork stating that the album was succinct and refined in its portrayal of love, consequently accentuating Miller's artistry.[57] The Divine Feminine debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and number one on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart with 48,000 units.[58][59]

Miller's fifth studio album, Swimming, was released on August 3, 2018, to positive reviews from critics.[60] Pitchfork described the album as consisting of "wistful soul and warm funk", through his exploration of heartbreak and his own mental health issues.[61] Swimming debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 with 66,000 units, his fifth consecutive top five-charting album release in the United States.[62] After his death in September 2018, the single "Self Care" rose to number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100, his highest peak as lead artist.[63] Swimming was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards.[64]

Posthumous releases

Miller's estate began approving posthumous music releases in June 2019, with the collaborative singles "Time" with Free Nationals and Kali Uchis, and "That's Life" with 88-Keys and Sia.[65]

Influences

Miller included Big L, Lauryn Hill, Beastie Boys, Outkast, and A Tribe Called Quest among his influences.[66] He had a close relationship with fellow Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa, saying "Wiz has been a big brother to me with this music thing so far. Our relationship is beyond music. He really is just my homie, whether I will be making music or not."[6]

Personal life

Miller spoke openly about his struggle with substance abuse and depression.[1] To manage stress during his Macadelic Tour in 2012, Miller began taking promethazine, and later became addicted to purple drank, also known as "lean". Miller told Complex in January 2013: "I love lean; it's great. I was not happy and I was on lean very heavy. I was so fucked up all the time it was bad. My friends couldn't even look at me the same. I was lost."[40] He quit taking promethazine in November 2012, before shooting his reality show Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family.[40] In 2014, Miller was taking drugs daily, and felt that the final track on Faces, "Grand Finale", was "supposed to be the last song [he] made on Earth." Recounting that period to Billboard in August 2015, Miller was "definitely way healthier" but not "completely" sober.[67] After stating he "hated" being sober in a February 2016 documentary,[1] Miller had become sober for three months by October 2016, noting his better mood and maintained creativity.[68] However, when asked about his sobriety in April 2017, Miller said he was now "living regularly".[69]

Miller was in an on-again, off-again relationship with Nomi Leasure, whom he met in middle school, for seven years until 2016.[67][70][71] Many of the songs on his mixtape Macadelic were about their relationship.[70] Miller dated singer Ariana Grande from August 2016 to May 2018.[72]

Legal issues

In February 2011, while on tour in upstate New York, Miller and his friends were arrested for possession of marijuana for which they had to spend the night in jail. Miller said the case was "settled".[73]

Producer Lord Finesse filed a $10 million lawsuit against Miller, Rostrum Records and DatPiff on July 9, 2012, for the use of a sample of Finesse's song "Hip 2 Da Game" used in Miller's 2010 mixtape song "Kool-Aid and Frozen Pizza".[74] In December 2012, the lawsuit was settled out of court with its stipulations kept confidential.[75]

In March 2015, the band Aquarian Dream filed a $150,000 lawsuit against Miller for sampling the band's song "Yesterday (Was so Nice Today)" in the song "Therapy" on his 2014 mixtape Faces.[76]

Miller was arrested in May 2018 on charges of driving under the influence and hit and run after allegedly crashing into and knocking down a power pole and fleeing the scene with two passengers. Police arrived at the scene, ran Miller's license plate number, and obtained his address. Miller confessed to the crash when police arrived at his home. Miller was taken into custody and released on $15,000 bail.[77] In August 2018, Miller was charged with two counts of driving under the influence for the incident.[78]

Death

On September 7, 2018, Miller was found unresponsive in his Studio City home by his personal assistant, who called 911 and performed CPR until paramedics arrived. Miller was pronounced dead at the scene at 11:51 a.m. (PDT), from a suspected drug overdose.[79][80] He had been scheduled for a video shoot on the day of his death.[81] In his will, Miller named his mother, father, and brother as beneficiaries.[82] He was buried at Homewood Cemetery in his hometown of Pittsburgh, in a Jewish funeral.[83] On November 5, 2018, the Los Angeles County Coroner's office determined that Miller died from an accidental drug overdose due to a "mixed drug toxicity" of fentanyl, alcohol, and cocaine.[84]

On September 11, 2018, thousands of fans held a vigil in Miller's honor at Pittsburgh's Blue Slide Park, in respect to his 2011 debut album of the same name.[85] A tribute concert, Mac Miller: A Celebration of Life, was held on October 31, 2018, in Los Angeles. Many of his friends and collaborators performed or provided messages at the concert; proceeds raised benefited the newly-established Mac Miller Circles Fund, which aims to support youth arts and community-building programs in his memory.[86] The charity had raised over $700,000 by January 2019.[87] In May 2019, the renamed Mac Miller Fund issued its first grants, including $50,000 to MusiCares, which was used to launch their Mac Miller Legacy Fund to help young musicians with substance abuse issues.[88][89]

Discography

Studio albums

Filmography

Film and television roles
Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2011 Single Ladies Himself 2 episodes [19]
2012 Punk'd Himself Episode: "Mac Miller" [90]
2013, 2015 Ridiculousness Himself 2 episodes [91][92]
2013–2014 Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family Himself [93]
2013 Scary Movie 5 D'Andre Film [94]
2014 Loiter Squad Dave Episode: "Stone Cold Stunner" [95]

References

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External links