Using our lives to honor others: Remembering Mac Miller with Donald Glover


Courtesy – Hypebeast

I was on a road-trip to Chicago when Mac Miller was found dead of an apparent drug overdose. Something about the overcast weather, remaining hours of the drive, and the fresh news of Mac’s passing painted a surreal haze on the luscious, green landscape surrounding the high-way. Cocooned in with the type of thoughts we try to ignore, it hadn’t quite set in that Mac Miller was gone.

When we finally arrived at Childish Gambino’s This is America Tour, the surreal feeling of absence overshadowed my enjoyment of the show. But a wave of unity finally came during the high-light of the show: Donald lead the crowd through a moment dedicated to Mac Miller.

“This kid, he was so nice. He was the sweetest guy… we should be allowed to be sad. My heart was broken… I just want to say, I love you, Mac.” He continued to get on his knees and sing a quiet, heartbreaking rendition of his Awaken, My Love! cut Riot. “I can feel it, deep inside my body. I’ve been watching all this all night,” he sang in falsetto while staring to the sky. “I’ve got to move it. This pressure’s brewing. This world don’t feel alright.” As Donald stood and moved center stage, he wiped tears from his face. When the band exploded through the stadium speakers, he danced away the pain we were all feeling.

I was always a big fan of the metamorphosis of Mac Miller during his transition from party rap into his introspective, voyeuristic stage with “Watching Movies with the Sound Off.” The album is all about the spectacle of fame and people judging from outside its walls. As he states in the album’s stand-out track “Objects in the Mirror,” “People love you when they’re on your mind. A thought is love’s currency.” The record perfectly sound-tracked my sad-boy college days. During this phase, he started hanging out with the TDE and Odd Future collectives; this legitimized him as a force in hip hop. In just two years he went from Danny Brown labeling him “the worst guy” in rap music to making songs with Danny Brown. He was rising rap’s ranks adjacent to Donald Glover and 2013 was the year they both gained hip-hop’s respect. “We were both Internet music kids. We came up during the internet and a lot of critics were like, ‘this corny ass white dude’ just like they were like, ‘this corny ass black dude,’” Donald says.

From 17 to 26 year-old, Mac released five studio albums, one live album and 12 mixtapes. With every project he was transcending what it meant to be a rapper. Watching his Tiny Desk with NPR, you felt his aspirations to be a jazz artist. He was just getting started. Mac Miller shined a bright light with stories of generosity and interpersonal relationships; he always shined brighter than the demons of his psyche.

Articles will label him as Ariana Grande’s ex. People will exploit his pain and frame him as a hopeless junky because of the way he went out. Instead, we should remember him for how his music made us feel. Donald Glover’s words that night will stick with me: “I felt good about being sad because it tells me that he was special… Everybody deserves that. Everybody in this room. You are nobody’s narrative. Sometimes people will struggle with that because people will tell you who you are on the Internet… They will make a narrative about you but we’re all way too complex to be a narrative.”

On the 11-hour journey back to Lawrence, we were 15 minutes away from the end of the trip when we were involved in a collision at 70-miles-per-hour. While the car was violently pulsing from left-to-right and I was sure that we were about to flip the car, a picture of Mac flashed into my head. I was sure that we were about to join him when suddenly the vehicle stopped. With my heart pounding, I discovered that no one was hurt in the accident.

People say your life flashes before your eyes when you die but what flashed before mine was a celebrity’s. Not even their life – just a picture from their life. Death casts a reflection on humanity that makes us look into ourselves. To embrace the things that we place in denial. I will take this time out to be sad. I will take this time to be grateful for my life and all of the people around me. I will allow this moment to be full and dedicate myself to living to my fullest, as he did. That’s the only way we can truly honor Mac Miller. Rest in peace, Eazy Mac with the Cheesy Raps.