Across the span of just a couple years, 23 year-old Mac Miller (born Malcolm McCormick) has come a long way. From the original “Easy Mac” rapper, to his acceptance and popularity into mainstream rap, Mac Miller has climbed through the dark tunnels of fame and excess, still intact enough to share his stories with the world. In a way you can’t help but root for Mac and the success of his latest project– he’s essentially proved us all wrong. With the successful release of his first major label album (and his third album), GO:OD AM, let’s take a look back at the many faces/phases of Mac Miller, all the way up to present-day.
Easy Mac With The Cheesy Raps
In the beginning, Mac didn’t give us too much to root for. There were a few things going against him: a lack of maturity, the internet sensation fame, but most obviously his first name choice (Easy Mac), and the cover of his first mixtape. He later makes fun of this name, with a spoken word piece from Loaded Lux: “You was easy mac with the cheesy raps, who the fuck is Mac Miller.” At the tender age of 15, this is the world’s first listen to the young rapper who by this time was already well heard of in the Pittsburgh rap game. This is Mac’s most childish (literally) phase, accompanied by overly braggadocios raps through excessive autotune and simple, jazzy beats.
Albeit all of this, he continued working his way up. First order of business, dropping ‘Easy Mac’ in place of ‘Mac Miller’ (thank God), and then to finishing two more mixtapes, The Jukebox: Prelude to Class Clown and The High Life, all while still in high school. However it was during his senior year when everything certifiably took off for Mac as he was handed the opportunity to sign to Rostrum Records, the well-known Pittsburgh label.
Once he started gaining some recognition as Mac Miller, he dropped two more mixtapes, K.I.D.S and Best Day Ever, both cemented in fun, youthful raps and thus sort of propelling the idea that Mac was a ‘college rapper,’ a notion he would dispel as he progressed.
Mac’s first debut album, Blue Slide Park, released in 2011 was special for many reasons. For one, it was the first independent album to top the Billboard album charts since 1995. It’s during this time that Mac gained fame for “Party on Fifth Ave.” and “Donald Trump” (the latter song appearing on Best Day Ever as well).
“I’m a white rapper, they always call me Shady”
With the label cred under his belt, Mac Miller soon soared into an internet sensation, cranking out catchy, infectious rap records. However regardless of where one may be from, to be a white boy in the rap game you’ve got to prove yourself even more, and with plenty of reason. He continued to get flack as an artist and the image he was projecting of himself. “In a way, based on what I was rapping about in my early days, I kind of brought it on myself,” Mac shares in a recent interview with Grantland. “But I wasn’t from the suburbs, I was actually from the city. I wasn’t from the projects, but because it was the city, we weren’t that far from the hood.”
It’s only until recently, in this interview with the Breakfast Club, that Mac has matured enough to become more comfortable speaking about what it means to be a white rapper and the responsibilities that holds.
After dropping his first album, Mac set the stage with his next mixtape, Macadelic, which helped earn him some well-deserved credit. What caught most of our attention was the tapes features– from Kendrick Lamar to Juicy J, to Cam’ron, Joey Bada$$, and more. Production from the likes of Clams Casino as well as ID Labs, the project allowed us to take Mac more seriously from a lyrical perspective, and also offered a new sound in terms of the updated, psychedelic-driven production. This was the beginning of a drug-influenced Mac we’d see spiral downwards in the coming year(s)– as he was maturing right before our eyes, so was his music, and thus his subject matter. We’ll get into that a bit more in the next gallery.
In 2013, fans and critics alike were waiting for the drop of his second album, Watching Movies With The Sound Off. This album became a turning point for many on-the-fence Mac fans. Macadelic was all well and good, but it was still cemented in just having fun. WMWTSO seemed to be Mac’s most serious project yet– serious as in, he was taking both it and himself seriously. To top it off, working closely with artists like Vince Staples and Earl Sweatshirt, we found Mac accepted into a well-known pool of rappers, perhaps some that we might not have expected during the Easy Mac days. The album featured everyone from Action Bronson to freaking Jay Electronica.
It was amid all of this where bad habits, including an addiction to promethazine (and possibly a few other things…), were catching up to him real quick. “For two or three years of my life, I was on drugs every day,” Mac Miller says. Any other bad habits he possessed all gathered in a vacuum once he moved out to Los Angeles.
When listening to “Objects in the Mirror,” off his second album, you may believe it to be a love song, but many rumors surfaced that the song was actually about Mac’s relationship with lean.
Much of this is highlighted in his short-lived MTV2 reality show, “Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family.” The show bio explains it all, “follow Mac as he takes on his new superstar status and trades in his hometown Pittsburgh digs for the sun-and-celeb-filled world of Los Angeles.”
It was this house though, that gained notoriety itself as the ultimate party house and, not to mention, it was equipped with a recording studio, allowing Mac to completely hibernate from the outside world. He’s not the first artist to find himself in such a place; this inability to cope with the overwhelming amount of fame and succumbing to his vices left him in a dark, strung-out space.
The constant chase for musical perfection left him with countless hours of music (apparently nine albums worth). One mixtape which was birthed out of this time was 2014’s, Faces. With well-known names and a string of producers attached to it, the tape was excellent although it only further proved Mac’s current situation: lonely, experimental, while simultaneously one big giant party.
Meditation, Rick Rubin, and GO:OD AM
Meditation, Rick Rubin, and GO:OD AM
It was during the summer of 2014 when Mac Miller hit an all-time low and knew it was time to get back on track– with music, life, but mostly, with himself. Attending a ‘rehab’ of sorts, Mac flew out to Rick Rubin’s peaceful estate in Malibu where he spent “a few weeks to a month” sobering up– per Rubin’s encouragement, too, it appears the producer was essential in helping Mac make this decision. Doing a complete 180 from time he spent cut off from the world in LA, Mac has come out on the other side, at a much better place, stating, “I’m not 100 percent sober or anything, but I will say my outlook on life is way more positive.”
It is in this most recent phase of the rapper’s life that he’s made many changes, some more difficult than others. Last October, he made the heavy choice to leave Rostrum Records and sign a big (some say $10 million big) dollar deal with Warner Brother records. Miller also decided to leave Los Angeles for good, moving to New York City with his long time girlfriend as he seeks a more “normal life.” GO:OD AM has already done well, with rave reviews and a jam-packed tour already lined up. It also shows the progression in Mac’s disposition– he’s definitely on the more optimistic side, finding a balance with a more noticeable mainstream appeal than what we heard on the drug-influenced Macadelic and WMWTSO. Getting to wake up every morning and grab coffee on the streets of NYC is about as “normal” as things will get for Mac Miller, though.