Mac Miller outgrew his skin, but never his den of smokers & artistic musings.
Mac Miller's musical legacy began on relatively modest terms. When he first sprung on the scene as a teenager many among us grouped him closely with fellow Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa. In reality they shared a production team which oversaw both their content, a triangulation that proved beneficial to all those concerned. Wiz Khalifa was foreseeably the first to break away, but Miller was never far behind. Even ID Labs, the production staff they both shared, profited from their comeuppance. The 2007-2010 era was quite the learning curve, in hindsight.
Part of Mac Miller's unending appeal stems from the fact that he's owned up to poor judgement, both as an artist and a flawed individual. The two clauses are rarely so closely guarded. In many instances, Miller often walked out of a sticky situation in better sorts by admitting to his faults, whether it was a cheesy catchphrase he'd come to regret, or his odd fixation with Donald Trump, years before the MAGA nightmare came to rest.
Mac Miller never sold his bravado as an inflexible reality, which is why it passed inspection. His early music touched on themes that actually resonated with a college-aged audience. For that, Mac Miller held the distinction of going no. 1 on his debut. This is 2011, four years removed from the bedroom tapes, his association with Wiz Khalifa still dogging him, in view of their presumed similarities. Say what you will now that he's passed, but the "stoner" tag did have a dogged effect on his perception.
Then within two years Mac Miller underwent an incredible period of artistic growth. 2013's Watching Movies with the Sound Off was the album that really created a sense of fellowship within his fanbase. The general college-aged crowd was either forced to subsume his new material, or walk away empty-handed. What Mac Miller was now offering, was a real dose of introspective quality.
Within the scope of his self-absorption, the musical arrangements started to bud as well. Miller embedded each song with the consequences of his insecurities, thus his music became less affected and more identifiable. By now the disparity between Wiz and Miller had become oh so apparent. To Wiz's credit, he too followed his heart, his decision to stay the course was absolutely brilliant.
The albums that followed: GO:OD AM, The Divine Feminine, and his latest offering Swimming, are set to be his calling card after death. All three efforts represent a tonal shift, one after the next. It's within these chapters that Mac Miller begins to make strong intimations about substance abuse, the effect of which would further alienate his cause.
On the flip side his admittance gave fans an even stronger impetus to connect the dots. On some level, Miller should be credited with helping invoke a healthy alternative to male aggressivity within the culture. Miller's marked passivity may have been misplaced in several instances, but eventually it evolved into an instrument of change within the medium. His musical legacy depends upon our understanding of his "passivity" as a measurable quality.