It should be December 2. This should be an interview.
We expected to see recording artist Malcolm McCormick, aka Mac Miller, and members of his entourage full of energy backstage of The Sylvee before his performance. We would have asked questions about the release of his fifth album Swimming and why his tours so often stop in Madison.
Instead, we’re asking others to take care of themselves, even in dark situations like drug addiction, depression or both.
For most of us, the music we listened to toward the end of middle school and early on in high school is what we consider to define our childhood. The Pittsburgh native’s mixtape K.I.D.S. seems more appropriate now than when we first heard it in 2010.
We miss a man we’ve never met, but always heard. You don’t have to like McCormick, but it would be mind-boggling to not at least empathize with how much he became a role model to a large swath of kids at the turn of the last decade.
Always willing to open up about his personal demons, the words in Miller’s music impressed upon millions of teenagers across the country and beyond our borders. The self-described hardest working man in the universe created music that often became the soundtrack for hanging out with friends in middle and high school.
McCormick’s reach extended beyond family, not limited to blood relation. A large portion of McCormick’s music has a sorrow tone, yet brought positivity to teens filled with angst, going through their developmental years.
Young Raspy God’s journey through rap was circuitous, even re-inventing himself so many times into a better artist and person. His progression became public, giving millions who looked up to him a blueprint on how to adapt to troubling circumstances.
Death, especially tragic, should not allow for brash assumptions or guilt-tripping. A past love is not to blame, and a future partner is not a guarantee of salvation in times of despair. Neither of these was ever once thought of by McCormick, yet fair-weather fans and late arrivals to his music, particularly the younger group, feel they are entitled to speak on his behalf. That is exactly what McCormick would loathe.
Our society considers a man listed at 5 feet 7 inches short, yet McCormick stood tall even with the world at his feet. He continued to act as though he was genuinely friends with his fans, all while fighting with his conscious.
We know — but have never watched directly — people as young as 17 and 18, doing cocaine at weekend house parties. It wasn’t limited to high school rumors or casual conversations before lecture this semester. We’ve overheard them brag when they were too clueless to think we were out of earshot. When they showed up for a class you couldn’t tell, it’s not like the movies.
Even in Madison, Wisconsin — whether it be an obvious addiction or a bar crawl boost — the drug has impacted us, and we’ve never touched the product once. As a community, we must make an effort to not let our loved ones flush their lives away. Whether you know someone who is battling a mental health crisis or has turned to narcotics for an alternative reason, it just doesn’t matter whether they’re your best friend or a classmate you met yesterday.
When those you know begin to dip off to the restroom during parties as frequently as the janitor, McCormick’s music becomes more and more relatable. Your favorite celebrity adding uppers to try and combat instability should not give reason to say it’s the norm or a trend to follow. Instead, the trend is bullying those trying to get out of a dark place while blaring music full of drugs named in the chorus. So, what’s the use?
Working to take care of yourself was the new message McCormick started pushing last month especially with the release of Swimming. There’s an endless amount of eerie lyrics by McCormick that may haunt fans for the immediate future. It hasn’t settled in that McCormick is dead, just hurt feelings.
On “REMember,” from the 2013 album Watching Movies With The Sound Off, Miller raps, “it’s a dark science when your friends start dying. Like how could he go? He was part lion.”
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Before he left, McCormick was asking the right questions. We sometimes ask the same, especially with the madness that extends beyond our Madison community. McCormick is gone, but Mac Miller and his other musical pseudonyms responsible for releases such as Larry Fisherman, Larry Lovestein, Delusional Thomas and The Velvet Revival will remain.