I’m writing to you from my parents’ yard, sitting in a Swimming hoodie. It’s finally cold, and the leaves are changing colors. Time is hurrying by, and I feel the pressure of the future in my bones. This is where it all started for me: Holed up in a hoodie, writing outside with the crisp fall air on my face, thinking on better days.
When I started writing, all I wanted was to “make it.” I had no idea what that meant or what it would look like. But I wanted it. It was fiendish, my appetite for penning pieces, and achieving success. I remember my early days with the pen as your early days on the mic: Starved for the goodness of catching a hit. And we found hits, and we made it, in all the best ways.
Year of Mac is coming to a close, my friend. Next week marks the final piece in a series I felt positively possessed to write. People love to ask me why I started Year of Mac. I want to have some verbose answer, but really, it was so simple. So obvious. There was a surge of electricity in me, and it turned into this year-long effort to honor you and your legacy. Across the year, I’ve learned so much about your spirit and your drive, your heart, and your craft. You were the quintessential artist. A voice of our generation. A voice of generations to come. You had it all, Mac. The penmanship, the wit, the delivery, the melody. Every element of music coursed through you. To this day, your catalog breathes with a life that cannot be denied.
I wanted to commune with you one last time, to thank you one last time, because my life has changed so dramatically since this series began. Last October, I tried to take my own life. This October, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. I owe it to myself, but I also owe so much to you for guiding me. I’ve lived my life along the lines of your albums for so long. I think of your career arc often, how I always say it’s like a perfect, three-act play. You began with your blithe youth in 2009, and you run with that unfiltered happiness until the wheels fall off on 2012’s Macadelic. Your second creative renaissance starts then, with you leaning into deep introspection, a greater breadth of melodies, and a wider range of musicality.
Macadelic is so important to me, Malcolm. It’s the project proving you’re truly something special. It’s your first major turning point, and it still goes. The man you become on Macadelic is wounded and auspicious. The man you grow into is self-aware and happy to be alive. I listened to Macadelic on my drive to my parents’, and I realized just how deep the project ran. More than a mixtape, this project is an ode to the end of adolescence. It is the sign-off to sunny days and blissful ignorance. Macadelic is about accepting the wrought future and tackling it head-on. When you sing “Dear people on earth after I die,” it brings a tear to my eye. You were already writing us back. Before you knew you had to. Your music was so communicative. That was your magic. That is your magic.
The meat of your second act comes by way of Watching Movies with the Sound Off, Faces, and GO:OD AM. Each album acts as a guide on how to live and live well, with Faces being the true opus of your catalog. All your guilt, all your paranoia, your demons, and your triumphs, live on Faces. I listened to Faces just the other day and pulled so much from your hurt and overcoming. I know you’ve mentioned not being on this earth while you made the project, and I believe it. You took us there, Mac. You charted your pain so well. You were a born-reporter. And after bringing us into the depths of your hurt, just by releasing Faces, you brought us to the light.
Then you brought us into the third act, into The Divine Feminine and Swimming. You accessed your voice and penchant for chords in ways never heard. You became yourself, Mac. Not that you weren’t Mac Miller before 2016, but you had that fronting air to you. Even on GO:OD AM, after hearing Swimming, we get the impression you were still out to prove something with your bars. On TDF and Swimming, there were no more stakes. There was nothing on the line for you. You just wanted to make music from the pit of your essence, no matter how non-traditional it sounded. You already made the airtight rap album. Now, it was time for you to create the airtight Mac Miller album. You did it twice. I wish we could have gone for the three-peat.
I think of the way you moved so fluidly in your video for “Inertia,” and how you leaned into each rap with loving energy. You were embodying your bars then, Mac. You were one with the words, one with the beat. You were within yourself and outside of yourself. You were always a metaphysical being, but the video for “Inertia” truly captured your uncanny ability to elevate your whole soul and leave it all on wax. I watch it every day, and I think of you. I think of all you’ve done for me and music, for your fans. I think of the people in my inbox, telling me you saved their life. I think of all the lives you’ve yet to save, how your spirit moves people despite you not being here in the physical sense.
Mac, you’ve made me believe in the mootness of physicality. How tangible presence is only one part of the equation. There is so much more to changing lives than showing up in the physical. It’s almost laughable how much I feel you envelop all us Macheads every time I press play on one of your albums or re-read an interview. You have an inextinguishable soul. You’re an indestructible being. The connection you forged with the physical world during your time here will supersede any notion you’ve left us. You are in everything, Malcolm.
I want to end this letter by thanking you once more. Now that I’m in a better place, I have so much more to learn from your music. The lightness of your touch comes through in ways I never imagined before this year. Suddenly, every lyric and every album feels like a shining ray of hope. You were always forward-thinking with your music, and I mean that in the emotional sense. Even at your lowest, you were looking towards a future where the sunshine felt right on your skin.
You are an angel among us, Mac. You are heavenly in ways I struggle to describe. You’ve given so much and as we say goodbye to Year of Mac, go about our ways, and grow, I know your music will give even more. You made living music. You were rare, Mac. Thank you for sharing that with us. Thank you for being Malcolm.