It’s been reported that Mac Miller had been dead for quite some time when one of his friends called for an ambulance, I guess so they could try to reanimate him.
Between that and the fact that it’s been a week now since his death was first reported (I’d already written last week’s issue the night before, even though I’m unemployed), hopefully it’s not too soon to write about Mac Miller.
Not that I have anything bad to say about him—he seems (er, seemed) like a decidedly chill bro. Perhaps a bit too chill. But I do have thoughts that go beyond what you might find in any number of articles about how the guy writing it was close personal friends with the rapper and hence is especially bummed out, as if that should mean anything at all to the reader. (Even the lowliest of weed carriers, by definition, has at least one friend.)
In fact, Mac Miller seems to have been friends with most music writers, including people who published reviews of his albums in major publications. Of course none of these reviews included disclaimers stating that the rapper had invited the writers to his apartment, plied them with drugs, pretended not to notice as they ogled his shirtless, adolescent torso and whatever else went on during these hang sessions.
Could such a relationship have been responsible for the critical reappraisal that seems to have taken place between his first album, Blue Slide Park, and his second album, Watching Movies with the Sound Off? The latter, in Pitchfork, was given a score a full six points higher than the former. It was reviewed by Craig Jenkins, whose Twitter is currently filled with tearful, engagement-driving allusions to times when he used to kick it in Mac Miller’s apartment.
I should note that I’ve never heard anything other than maybe 30 seconds of that song that samples “Hip 2 da Game” by Lord Finesse. Mac Miller’s initial rise to prominence took place at a time when I was in and out of the hospital, having what’s left of my right eye cut open with a scalpel and sewn back together while I was still awake. And the fact of the matter is that I probably wouldn’t have given a shit anyway, as a black guy of a certain age.
Though it seems to have since been forgotten, the Lord Finesse thing was, at the time, quite the controversy, and I’m sure colored the way Mac Miller was viewed by the 119 people in the entire world who own at least three Lord Finesse albums (not counting the Fatboy Slim album with “The Rockafeller Skank” on it). Supposedly, when Finesse approached Mac Miller’s people about them not paying to sample his record, they lied and told him they’d purchase beats from him for Miller’s album.
That album, Blue Slide Park, became the first independent release to top the Billboard 200 in 16 years. Miller’s label, Rostrum Records, somehow had a deal with iTunes in which they got to keep all but $0.25 of every $9.99 album sold. Finesse later sued Mac Miller for $10 million—which he may have actually had—settling out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Blue Slide Park was released at a time when Pitchfork seemed to have a vendetta against rappers who were deemed to be not sufficiently black and/or stereotypical. Their legendarily negative review of the album, which was given a 1.0, ran within a week of their similarly negative review of the first Childish Gambino album, Camp, which was given a 1.6. A few months later, the same guy who reviewed the Mac Miller album dropped a 7.9 on Chief Keef’s breakthrough mixtape, Back from the Dead.
At a Childish Gambino show this past weekend, Donald Glover paid tribute to Mac Miller with remarks that were inadvertently reminiscent of Walter Sobchak’s eulogy for Donny in The Big Lebowski, revealing that the two of them had bonded over the fact that they’d both been shit on by Pitchfork.
“He was the sweetest guy,” Glover told the audience. “He was so nice. And we were both Internet music kids, and a lot of critics were like ‘this corny-ass white dude, this corny-ass black dude,’ and we used to talk. And this kid, he just loved music.”
He died, as so many young men of his generation, before his time. In your wisdom, Lord, you took him, as you took so many bright, flowering young men at Khe Sanh, Langdok and Hill 364.
Mac Miller who loved music, goodnight sweet prince.
Take it easy on yourself,