Miller’s impact still looms after death

Tribune News Service

Four years ago Sept. 30, I was standing outside Stage AE in Pittsburgh, waiting to see my first concert. The occasion was a friend’s birthday, and the performer was Mac Miller. Our general friend group were all big fans of Miller, the Pittsburgh rapper who two days prior had released his latest album GO:OD AM. Miller was kicking off the tour promoting his album in his hometown, and we knew we had to go.

The show was electric. Miller played songs from the new album and classic favorites to the eager hometown crowd. During his performance of the song “Donald Trump” Miller did not perform a verse. See, that song was a right of passage for the teens and young adults in the audience. Miller simply held the microphone pointed at the audience, as the jam packed venue recited his hit song to him.

His performance of “Best Day Ever” as the sun went down could not have been written better for a Hollywood film. The night in general was unforgettable, with GO:OD AM still standing as one of my all-time favorite albums. 

It is now 2019, and over a year has passed since Miller tragically overdosed. While his passing still hangs heavy on the hearts of his fans and the Pittsburgh community, it has had an equally lasting impact on the music industry.

Miller had such an impact on music and the artists that he worked with, that not even time can fill the hole that his passing has left. His last album, Swimming, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, but is much more than just a rap album. Swimming is a live look at the evolution of Miller’s music career.

When Miller began his career at the age of 15, he was a straight flow rapper. His early music, often misconceived as “Frat Rap”, is what put him in the spotlight. From there, Miller began honing his craft, dabbling in R&B, producing and experimenting with many different types of sounds. Where Miller is as an artist and as a person in Swimming compared to his early days are almost complete opposites. Where early Mac is boastful, Swimming Mac is reflective and seemingly in a moment of bliss.

The point here is that Miller was only 26 when he passed, yet experienced the career transformation that few artists achieve in a full lifetime. The hole left by Miller’s passing is not just felt in the present, but also in the future of music that he would have had a profound influence in changing.

However, even after passing, Miller’s impact still looms. Not just in the music he released over 11 years, but in the constant wait for the music he didn’t release.

In countless interviews with countless artists, Miller is credited for practically living in the studio. His commitment to music is acknowledged by everyone in the industry that he was close to. Because of this, it is reasonable to assume that while Miller put out so much music, there could be multiple albums that he recorded and never released.

While there are too many rumors to mention, the idea that there is unreleased Mac Miller music in existence is a fact. This summer alone, multiple songs leaked to the internet, including “Benji the Dog” which turned out to be an unfinished version of the 88-Keys song, “That’s Life” featuring Miller and Sia. 

Those songs were the soundtrack to my 2019 summer. It is a foregone conclusion that any Mac Miller music that is released in the future will immediately make its way to the top of my playlist. While it may not be 2009 or even 2015, one thing remains certain: Mac Miller’s music and the memories connected to it, will always live on, just as the music industry will always be missing a key piece of its future.