Malcolm McCormick and the Stoned Sorcerer

My last summer with Mac.

I’m not the first one to tell you this, but the passing of the 26 year old Pittsburgh rapper & producer is nothing short of devastation. Nobody’s time to depart life is that early, so when I saw the news in a GroupMe drop-down notification hinging over my emails as I exited class last Friday afternoon, I was floored.

Beneath floored, actually. My stomach dropped so rapidly that I was cemented between the uneven cracks of the sidewalk, unable to move. You know that paralysis during lucid dreaming that you can’t break out of? And I was surprised by this reaction at first.

By no means do I know this man, not even a superfan; I’m familiar with him in the same way you are — I hear his “Easy Mac with the Cheesy Raps” bravado at parties, and unwind in my evenings playing the wheezing, mumbling stoner rap, wherein each lyric is just him monologuing in rhyme.

Some of his fans relate most with his proclamation and vehement appraisal of drugs and partying, with his simply-crafted lyrics radiating on all speakers on tables next to empty solo cups. The upbeat 26 year-old started and ended his day the same way my peers and I would — ogling over social media, fastening a workout consisting of exclusively upper body, constructing bongs out of items that would make IKEA jealous. The dude just seemed like a DUDE.

However, what set this receding-hairlined superstar from an inactive fraternity senior (Asher Roth) was this man’s ceaseless yearning to improve his music. And it was felt. After heavily anticipating his fifth studio album, Swimming, on my first listen, I was baffled with its sing-songy layout and stoic ambiance as each song rotated during my long run.

In a word, melancholic. Mac’s slow grumbling from track to track, although not surprising, was an underwhelming way to attack the Billboard 200 following a high profile break-up and an even higher Malcolm crashing into a pole. But, then I re-listened to it.

And slowly, my brain began to highlight phrases, noises, riffs, and put them together to form the messages of the album. Mac raps about life — sure the delirious and drunk, but more often than not the somber and sober. His songs cover a wide breadth of topics upon a closer investigation — what you take away from his songs is what you’re looking for within them.

More than other celebrities with his accolades, Mac lets you know that he’s just another homie in the blunt rotation. Whatever problem you have, listening to his music is simply him sliding a Coors Light across the table followed by a “What’s eating you my man?”

I spent this entire summer with this Mac Miller. He’s the neighborhood older brother that performed the most jaw-dropping, outrageous acts of debauchery by night, but would come back into the house to wake you up to toss a football around. Quantitively, such a young dude, but what an array of advice to give — all about fame, what it feels to be in love and forcibly removed from it, being bored, braggadocio, shrooms, creation of long-lasting friendships, trying to get let in to a party- Mac covered it all.

Among his discography, a particular track that stands out as my favorite song all-time is “Cinderella” off his Divine Feminine album released in 2016. In it, Mac and none other than the “Or Nah” composer Ty Dolla $ign collaborate to express what it means to become enveloped in love, without the person even being there. A track that was tailor-made for music for when you get home after a date, it encapsulates both men’s memories and desires with their respective “Cinderella’s.” The last two or so minutes of the eight minute track stylishly slows down to Mac isolated playing a simple piano melody, figuratively stripping himself down to he is really is. You can have the hooks, the trap drum layered beats, the hottest features, but at the end of the day, Mac is Malcolm, and Malcolm is a screwball from Pittsburgh with a crush. And I think that’s why I like it so much; Mac had to be the most relatable rapper (I would argue artist) of our time.

So I just want to say thank you, my man. The kids my age grew up with you and saw your struggles parlayed into three and a half minute snippets for profit. And man was that news hard to hear.

Rest Easy, Mac. There’s a crazy ass kid knocking on heaven’s door waiting to be let in.

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