“2009” has proven to be the hardest Mac Miller record to write about. So, in the spirit of Year of Mac, I reached out to the man behind the production, Eric G, who you may know from his extensive work with 9th Wonder and Rapsody.
In his own words, Eric G remembers Mac Miller and breaks down the making of “2009,” which Mac recorded in a pitch black booth in Seattle, in 2016, off the top of his head. Magic.
“I met him in North Carolina at 9th [Wonder]’s studio, the Jamla studio. From there, we became friends and when he would come into town on tour, I’d go hang out with him. He was a really—I hate the expression—down-to-earth dude. You know? He just seemed like a really humble, warm person. He wouldn’t think of who he is, type of thing. We just had a lot of similarities as far as the content of ‘2009,’ and stuff. I would talk to him a lot about that stuff and he would give me advice. That was the best part of the friendship.
“We have a couple other songs that never came out, but ‘2009’ was the first one that I actually got to be there to record with him. It was in Seattle when he was on tour [Editor’s Note: Mac was on ‘The Divine Feminine’ tour, around November 2016]. We had dinner at the Space Needle one night, with him and Ariana and all the people on tour. Went to the studio for two nights in a row. The way he did the song, he did it so quickly. He works really fast and does a lot of stuff at all times.
“That’s what’s really crazy about working with him, too, is that he will sit down and play piano. Then he’ll play guitar, then he’ll play bass. He’ll play drums. Everything! The studio we were at, they had a big audio room, and he just played drums in there all crazy and came back in the room and played piano. It’s just insane. I think a lot of people think he’s just a rapper, which is fine, but he’s multi-talented. It’s just fluid. He just kind of exists, going with it. Instead of overthinking anything, he just goes. That speaks a lot to people’s talent, too. Not even a second thought. He just always did. Right off his first thought and instinct.
“I did the whole beat [on ‘2009’]. It was a sample chop that I had. I did all the drums, the bass, the piano. The chords. I did the whole thing. It was just a beat on my computer that I had. So [we were] in Seattle, at the studio I was talking about. He was sober for a while at this point. He was looking all healthy and stuff. It was just me and him there, and I was kinda going through my own thing at the time and I was asking him for advice. We just talked about that for hours, going in and outside, smoking cigarettes.
“He was like, ‘Play me some beats.’ And the first or second beat I played was that one. He just paced around the room for a little bit, with the beat playing. Then he put it in Pro Tools, and then he paced around for a little bit and did the first whole half of the song in a pitch black booth with no phone or anything. I don’t even know how he did it, and for it to be so meaningful. It’s crazy that it just came off the top of his head like that. He does the whole first half, and he goes, ‘Oh, that was tight.’ Then he did the rest a little later, but he didn’t write anything down, or anything. It was really crazy to watch.
“When we recorded [‘2009’], it felt like something super meaningful to me. It was relevant to my life, in a way. It’s relevant to a lot of people. It’s real emotional. It means the same thing to me now, as it did then, but a lot more. It holds a lot of relevancy considering the situation. It’s one of those songs that brings you back to a time that you can smell how it smelled when you first heard it, type thing. You can feel how you felt. You know, those things that make you time travel? I saw him the next day and he was showing me, played it for everyone who was on the tour, and all his close friends, and everyone said they cried.
“It was really important to me that we were able to talk about what we were able to talk about, and have it come out in the music. That one moment, him listening and… He’s just so honest about what’s going on with him. He was telling me stories about shit that you probably wouldn’t wanna tell. He was honest and he’s just a person, you know?”