Mac Miller, a rapper and producer, died last Friday. His career spanned about a decade, but over that period of time, he made his mark in the hip-hop community.
Mac’s career began as a teenager with a series of mixtapes and albums that mainly consisted of simplistic party music. It was the rapper’s early work that topped charts and built him a massive and loyal fanbase, but it was his later work that would earn him respect and define him as an artist.
At the time of his rise to fame, it would have to been hard to envision how the scrappy teenager from Pittsburgh who made frat rap would flip to the other end of the spectrum and make dark psychedelic rap that sang to the most embattled issues of humanity. His venture into these issues began with his 2013 album, Watching Movies with the Sound Off.
While Watching Movies with the Sound Off first exhibited his artistic shift, it was his 2014 mixtape, Faces, where he put his powerful new sound on full display. A rapper that had once based most of his content around partying and smoking weed had evolved into an artist that could speak to important issues — namely drug abuse and mental health— in a way that was incredibly genuine and compelling without compromising the artistic integrity of the music.
The music on Faces isn’t for people looking for frat rap, yet it also isn’t intended to lift anybody out of a dark place. Mac was conveying a first-person testament to the war that wages on inside a person battling addiction and depression. He was doing something very few people in the hip-hop community have ever done successfully, and it was heartbreaking and awe-inspiring at the same time.
The actual musical content on Faces was equally impressive as its personal content. Mac had moved behind the boards and begin producing mind-bending complex beats that were almost unlike anything seen in rap at the time. He was making music — under the pseudonym Larry Fisherman — that sounded like something that would occur if a '70s psychedelic, prog-rock group was introduced to an 808 drum kit. It was something only Mac could have done.
Aside from the impressive beats behind the songs, his lyrical content had moved to an entirely new echelon. He stared down his own personal tragedy and struggle in the eyes and came out with lyrics that were both moving and compelling in a way that required multiple listens to fully grasp what was being addressed. “Grand Finale,” the closing track of Faces, Mac opens his first verse with “If by chance this is my grand finale, then bury me in Allegheny County.”
Noah Wright is an undecided sophomore studying at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Noah? Email him firstname.lastname@example.org.