“They’re gonna try to tell you no, shatter all your dreams. But you gotta get up, and go and think of better things.” – Mac Miller
It is crazy to stop and think about how much Mac Miller accomplished in the short time he was on this Earth. The Pittsburgh rapper knew what he wanted out of life and stopped at nothing to make his dream a reality. In his 26 short years, he evolved as an artist and as a person. Miller may have left this world way too early, but at least he left his mark before saying goodbye.
1. He Had A Comfortable Home Life
Mac Miller was born Malcolm James McCormick on January 19, 1992 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Mark McCormick and Karen Meyers. His parents weren’t musicians but they did have creative jobs, with his father being an architect and his mother a photographer.
2. He Put Hidden Messages In His Songs
Many people enjoy Miller’s music, but only a select few may fully understand every reference he made. He often threw in references about his native Pittsburgh from time to time. Some of those references include Tony Womack, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Allegheny River.
3. He Had To Work Hard To Make It
Miller signed with Rostrum Records in 2010 but it wasn’t an immediate signing, as the president of the label, Benjy Grinberg, needed some convincing. Grinberg had met Miller a few times before and would give him advice every time they ran into each other. Still, it wasn’t until Grinberg heard Miller’s mixtape K.I.D.S. that he decided to sign the young rapper.
4. He Kept A Little-Known Faith
Millers parents diverged when it came to religion, with his dad being Christian and his mom Jewish. When they had Miller, they decided to raise him Jewish, and he even had a Bar Mitzvah.
5. He Was A Jock
Like most kids, Miller loved playing sports in high school, but he stopped playing them entirely when he decided to pursue rapping. It’s impossible to say whether or not he could have found as much success in sports as he did in music, but it feels safe to assume he chose the right path.
6. He Was Self-Taught
Miller made his name in the rap game but he was musically talented in general. When he was a kid, he taught himself how to play several instruments, including the piano, guitar, bass and drums.
7. People Hated His Voice
Miller decided at 14 years old that he wanted to dedicate his life to becoming a rapper. This happened after he free-styled once for his friends and it went very well. However, before that, he actually wanted to be more of a singer. Unfortunately, people who heard him sing weren’t fans of his voice and told him that, causing him to abandon that dream.
8. He Went By A Different Name
When Miller first got started as a rapper, he went under the name EZ Mac. He even released his first mixtape, But My Mackin’ Ain’t Easy, in 2007 under that moniker. He was also in a rap group called The Ill Spoken with fellow Pittsburgh rapper Beedie.
9. He Had A Hidden Talent
Miller wasn’t famous for his acting, but he did appear in a few TV shows. His sitcom debut was the TV show Single Ladies where he essentially played himself. His only film credit came in Scary Movie V, where he played D’Andre.
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10. His Bad Habits Got An Early Start
Miller was a chain smoker, which isn’t surprising since he had his first try when he was only in grade three.
11. He Cut Class For A Reason
Miller technically attended school every day, he just didn’t go to class. Instead, he would hang around the parking lot or by the exits and pass out CDs of his music to other students.
12. He Was Hugely Charming
Even with all those missed classes, Miller somehow found a way to charm his teachers into letting him graduate. According to his friends, the teachers cut him some slack because they knew he was at least using his time off productively as he was working on his rap career.
13. He Owned His Own Apartment In High School
Miller even lived right next to his high school in his senior year and yet still didn’t attend classes! Miller was able to afford his own place after he inherited money from his grandfather and was making some cash from his rap career. According to him, it wasn’t anything fancy though, just a run-of-the-mill apartment.
14. He Did Whatever It Took To Make It
Getting time in the studio to record music isn’t cheap, and Miller was broke when he first started out. So, to help pay for studio time, he and his friends would rob people at parties, taking TVs, going through girls' purses, and selling whatever they could get their hands on. That’s definitely not the most ethical way to make money.
15. He Had A Famous Fan
A big break in Miller’s career came courtesy of former NFL player Darrelle Revis, who is also from Pennsylvania and heard about Miller through the grapevine. Revis introduced Miller to his agent to try and help him get a record deal, and even recorded a song with him,“Friday Night Lights.”
16. He Pulled All-Nighters To Rap
No one can accuse Miller of not being a hard worker, as his friends claimed he always had his head buried in his notebook writing rhymes. It wasn’t uncommon for him to pull all nighters writing, and on the rare occasion he went to class, he was writing raps.
17. He Was An Angry Teenager
Artists and musicians evolve over time, and the same was true for Miller. This is especially true considering he got started and found success at such a young age. He was essentially evolving as a musician at the same time that he was evolving as a person. Because of this, according to him, all of his old music when he was starting out sounds like an “angry white rapper” with teenage angst.
18. He Was Bad At His Job
Like quite a few rappers before they got their big break, Miller used to sell weed but, according to him, he was a “horrible" dealer. He only ever had terrible product, but lied to his customers and said it was good. It’s not an ideal way to make money, but at least it’s better than some of the other things he was doing to make ends meet.
19. He Got In Trouble With The Law
While on tour in 2011, Miller was detained for possession and spent the night behind bars. He was detained again in 2018 for driving while drinking and for a hit and run after he crashed his car and fled the scene. Officers later tracked him down at his home, and Miller apparently confessed everything.
20. He Paid Tribute To A Lost Friend
Miller founded his own record label in 2013 called REMember Music, named after his late friend Reuben Mitrani, whose initials were REM. One year later, Miller would go on to sign the label to Warner Bros Records for $10 million! The deal allowed him to keep the name and sign new talent to the label.
21. He Had Quite The Debut
Miller's debut album Blue Slide Park came out in 2011 and sold 144,000 copies in its first week and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. This put Miller beside artists like Drake, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, and Adele, who also had albums debut at number one that year. Miller was also the first artist since 1995 to have an independently distributed debut album reach the number one spot.
22. He Finally Earned Recognition
Miller received his first, and only, Grammy nomination posthumously, for Best Rap Album for Swimming.
23. He Won A Prestigious Competition
Miller would perform at a club in Pittsburgh called the Shadow Lounge when he was a teenager, honing his skills and making a name for himself. Still, he technically wasn’t allowed in the club since he was way younger than 21. He even competed in the MC competition held at the club called Rhyme Calisthenics in 2009, where he made it to the final four.
24. He Had Secret Identities
Miller has alternate personas for various situations. His character Larry Lovestein, who he describes as a “seventy-year-old Lounge Jazz singer with a hairy chest” made an appearance on his EP titled You. Then there’s Larry Fisherman, who Miller considers a “nasty studio rat.” He actually worked under that name as a producer on rapper Vince Staples' mixtape Stolen Youth.
25. He Took Inspiration From A Film
Miller has used movies as inspiration on more than one occasion for his music. For example, his 2010 mixtape K.I.D.S was inspired by, and named after, the movie Kids.
26. He Had His Own Reality Show
Miller had a reality show called Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family, which ran for two seasons from 2013 to 2014 and documented his move to Los Angeles and the production of his second album Watching Movies with the Sound Off.
27. He Dated A Pop Star
Miller dated singer Ariana Grande for roughly two years, as the two started off as friends and collaborated on each other’s music before becoming an item. They later split amicably due to their busy schedules but remained friends up until Miller’s tragic passing.
28. He Released One Final Album
Miller released five studio albums throughout his life, starting with Blue Slide Park up until Swimming in 2018. But in 2020, Miller's estate released a posthumous sixth studio album, Circles.
29. His Passing Was Tragic
Miller admitted that during his tour in 2012 he would drink lean—a combination of promethazine and codeine—to help with stress, but after the tour he gave it up. Unfortunately, he would fail to kick his addiction, and on September 7, 2018 he passed in his home from an accidental overdose of fentanyl, cocaine, and alcohol.
30. He Should Rest In Peace
After Miller's passing, artists and musicians came together for a benefit concert called Mac Miller: A Celebration of Life, where they honored the late rapper. Proceeds from the benefit went to the Mac Miller Circles Fund, which helps youth and community building programs in Pittsburgh. Artists who performed at the benefit include Travis Scott, Chance the Rapper, John Mayer, and ScHoolboy Q, to name a few.
31. Talent Runs In His Family
Miller’s brother, Miller McCormick, designed the cover art for many of his albums.
32. He Took Criticism To Heart
Even though Blue Slide Park was a massive hit with fans, critics hated it, and sites like Pitchfork gave it one star. According to Miller, the negative reviews were tough on him personally. As he said, “A lot of the reviews were more on me as a person,” and the negativity led to him developing substance abuse problems.