I Was Drowning, Mac Miller Saved Me


by Nadirah Simmons

It’s been a little over a month since Mac Miller passed away - the same amount of time it took me to write this. Grief is complicated.

When my coworker dm’d me that Mac Miller passed away I didn’t believe it. Just three weeks before his death he was at our job performing “Ladders.” Anticipating his appearance we spent a whole hour going through songs from when he was “Easy Mac with the cheesy raps,” breaking down our favorite cuts on Swimming, ruminating on his growth and the evolution of his sound since he dropped his first tape and then finally stressing about how (at the time) there were no VIP or meet and greet packages for the upcoming tour. 

Today is October 10, and I am still grieving.

Maybe because I’ve followed his career from the jump. Back when he was half of the Ill Spoken duo with Beedie and “Like Aay!” was bumped religiously on my Sony NW-E305.

Maybe because his “Under The Influence of Music” tour with Wiz Khalifa was the first concert I attended at the age of 17, where Kendrick Lamar, Shoolboy Q, Chevy Woods and Chiddy Bang opened. Where I finally got to rap curse words in public to the tune of “Lucky Ass Bitch.”

Maybe because “He Who Ate All The Caviar,” released under his pseudonym Larry Fisherman, was the soundtrack to every pregame my first year at Rutgers.

Maybe because he had such a profound reverence for the culture of which he became a permanent fixture, and it was reciprocated from peers like Chance the Rapper and YG-both of whom opened for him on separate tours-to veterans like Hov. 

All of those things are true. And his passing made it clear I wasn’t the only kid who clamored to get tickets to his shows. I wasn’t the only kid who changed their middle name on Facebook to “MostDope.” I wasn’t the only kid who stalked the fuckyeahmacmiller tumblr religiously. I wasn’t the only kid who would spend their nights after school watching TreeJTV (which made the ‘Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family’ television show a real treat). I wasn’t the only kid annoyed with Pitchfork for giving Blue Slide Park a 1.0 rating (“Of the Soul” alone made it worthy of at least a 7.5). And I wasn’t the only kid drowning that Mac helped save.

“Poppy” was essential to my grieving process after my grandfather passed my first year of college. “I’ll Be There” stayed on repeat as I watched my dad battle cancer. Faces helped 20-year-old me me feel less ashamed of being depressed, and walked me through the anxiety, sadness, change in energy level and self-esteem. The Divine Feminine served as the soundtrack to finding love. Swimming reminded me to do just that when I lost it. Somehow, Mac Miller managed to be there to help me through everything. 

It feels like I lost a friend, like we all lost a friend. The friend you had lunch with every year until you graduated high school, only to end up going to the same college. The friend that would drop everything to come see you if you were sad. The friend that would sleep over at your house even when you weren’t there. The friend that would call your parents “mom” and “dad” because that’s how tight you were. 

The friend whose absence keeps you up at night. The friend whose music feels a bit different now when their songs end. The friend whose cancelled tour notification made their passing that much more painful. The friend who helped you stay afloat, only to one day stop swimming themselves.

I tweeted that I was going to be sad about losing him for the rest of my life, and through the couple hundred retweets I was assured I was not alone. At my toughest, lowest moments, Mac Miller was there. And even in loss the one thing that brings me peace is that he existed. And he grew. And he taught. And he loved. And he kept swimming, from 92’ til infinity, and beyond.