Mac Miller’s benefit concert to acknowledge his legacy and influence


(Nicolas Völcker/Wikimedia Commons)

The family of the late rapper Malcolm McCormick, better known by his stage name Mac Miller, have announced a benefit concert/celebration of life, set for October 31 at the Greek in Los Angeles. Tickets are now on sale for the show, which, his family warns, will be the only official event. Proceeds will benefit  The Mac Miller Circles Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation. 

The show will honor Miller, who died on Sept. 7. The money raised from ticket sales will go to the newly-established foundation, which will allow underprivileged children to explore their talents and give them an outlet to express themselves through the arts, something Miller was passionate about.

The Pittsburgh native gave off an aura of positive energy. He tried to make people happy, and a had a genuine heart. But it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies internally. Mac Miller often referred to his relentless demons in his music, revealing all the dark things that his goofy smile hid brilliantly.

His vulnerability was one of the reasons why people connected with him so deeply. He openly discussed his mental health struggles and battle with drug addiction, expressing himself through his lyrics. He was more than an artist to his fans; he was their friend. A friend who would be with you through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. His death felt personal.

His passing, of an apparent drug overdose, impacted people my age in ways I have never seen or experienced before. Our generation grew up listening to Mac.

From his break-out “K.I.D.S.” mixtape days, the iconic “Blue Slide Park” and “Best Day Ever,” to more mature projects like “Macadelic,” “Watching Movies With the Sound Off,” “GO:OD AM,” and “The Divine Feminine,” he always had loyal fans, and immense support. He was such a down-to-earth, relatable musician and he truly felt like one of us in the way he told his stories with his art.

He grew as an artist with each new project he created. He didn’t seem interested in superficial success, but more-so focused on how he could expand creatively and try new things. He put out five studio albums, two live albums, three EPs, 13 mixtapes and countless singles. Mac also produced music under the pseudonym of Larry Fisherman. 

It comes as no surprise that people reacted so strongly to his death. Social media erupted with tributes to him, and the weekend he died, his music was being played everywhere. People were celebrating the music he gave to us, and reminiscing about all of the memories and feelings attached to his work.

“Swimming” was his fifth studio album, released just 35 days before his death. It’s arguably one of his most emotional and best-crafted albums to date. Listening to it now makes for an eerie vibe. The songs pull back and forth from themes of optimism to despair. He illustrates that struggle with the imagery and metaphors he uses. In “Come Back to Earth,” he sings, “And don’t you know that sunshine don’t feel right/ when you inside all day/ I wish it was nice out, but it looked like rain/ Grey skies and I’m drifting, not living forever/ They told me it only gets better,” and “I just need a way out of my head/ I’ll do anything for a way out/ Of my head.” In “Jet Fuel” he sings, “Now my head underwater but I ain’t in the shower and I ain’t/ gettin’ baptized.” A contradiction to where he previously says, “And I was drownin’, but now I’m swimmin,’” in “Come Back to Earth.”

In the tragically ironic  “Self Care” video, Mac is seen breaking out of a coffin and writing in Latin “memento mori,” meaning “remember death.” This provides even more of the contradiction “Swimming” seems to expel throughout its entirety. Throughout the album, it’s like he’s trying to say he’s doing better, but is still being dragged down by internal conflicts. He addresses his issues and was trying to navigate himself out of them. I am heartbroken that he got lost along the way.

Mac made plenty of references to him possibly overdosing, but nobody wanted to believe that it would become his reality at the young age of 26. It hurts to know that someone people loved and adored so much was filled with so much pain.

He publicly admitted how he used drugs to ease his pain, and how he was aware of the dangers his habits posed for his health. I don’t know what he was truly dealing with, and the reasons why his drug use became so consuming, but this serves as a reminder to look out for yourself, and to look out for your friends. So often, we see lives lost because of mental illness and drug addiction. 

The benefit concert will pay homage to Mac and help his family, friends and fans come together and cope.

Music and art are universal, something that everyone can connect to on some level. Mac especially was someone who used music as a sort of therapy, and a way to articulate his emotions. This foundation will enable others to do that as well. The concert, featuring some of Mac’s friends Action Bronson, Earl Sweatshirt, Chance the Rapper, SZA, John Mayer and more, is a celebration of a life that was cut way too short. A great cause, and a great tribute to Mac.

An intricate mind and a beautiful soul was lost, and left so many in mourning. But I am grateful for what he left behind.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or mental health, just know that there are resources to help.

SAMHSA National Helpline

Email Katherine Kelley at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @katkelley26.

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