There’s no manual for life, and even those who seem to have it figured out will struggle to keep their head above water, against demons we may never know about, that continually pull them down; Turn to your coworker, your classmate, or your friend and remind them how much they matter. Don’t be afraid to verbalize the impact someone made on you today — because for all you know, those seemingly meaningless words of encouragement could be what keeps them afloat when they need it most.

The Beautiful Irony of ‘Swimming’ and the Tragic Loss of Mac Miller

Mac Miller will forever be revered as one of the greatest creatives of our generation. As I sit here and write this, mere hours after his tragic passing, all I can reflect on is the sheer impact he left at such a young age. When you hear Mac Miller’s name, the possibilities for the emotions his songs will invoke are endless. His diverse catalog included throwback mixtapes like Best Day Ever and The High Life which cemented his legacy among the greatest mixtape artists of all-time, yet he also released conceptual, emotional albums like Watching Movies with The Sound Off, Macadelic, and The Divine Feminine, which tackled such profound topics like death, love, addiction, suicide, and finding oneself— among other topics. Additionally, albums like Blue Slide Park and GO:OD AM are still being played across the world, with some eternal party anthems throughout both pieces of work serving as a staple for any function.

Swimming, his most recent album, is ironically a gorgeous mix of all three. Funky, jazz-inspired songs like “What’s The Use?” or the rap-heavy song “Self Care” have the potential to find themselves on rotation during some late night drinking sessions for years to come, while emotional songs like “Wings” and “Jet Fuel” bring you pass reality and into the world of reflection. More importantly, the song “2009” is an ode to his old self and the broken path that brought him to the present day. Performed and produced in such a beautiful way, with the inclusion of a string section that is both humbling, nostalgic, and emotional for everyone that listens, ‘2009’ is one of the most significant signs of hope we’ve seen from Mr. Miller. During a live performance of the song, featured on NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Series, Mac Miller often glances around the room, at the ceiling, the floor, and the walls, in what I would strive to imagine is a reflection on the road that brought him into that studio. As a fan, I could see the passion and the hope in his eyes that every fan has longed to see for years.

The album name, Swimming, allegedly derives from Mac’s consistent drowning in his bad habits, regret, and his continued suffering over the last few years. By proclaiming his road to recovery, Mac confidently states that he is no longer just barely holding his head above water —he’s Swimming. An extremely bold gesture for someone who’s suffered publicly like he has, albeit, a promising light for those who have followed his recent demise, struck with a lingering hope of his recovery to the old Mac Miller, who we loved and missed dearly.

Unfortunately, he drowned when everyone least expected it.

The greatest aspect of Mac Miller’s music, was the parallel growth many of us experienced alongside him. Where Mac went, we followed; When we became lost, Mac illuminated the path for us. His art was a reflection of his fans, and his fans were a reflection of him. He may be gone, but his guidance, his wisdom, and his art are eternal.

Mac Miller leaves behind a legacy in the music industry, from his production genius under the alias Larry Fisherman, to the countless lives, like my own, that he changed with his music. I can speak for more than just myself, when I say the Mac Miller was, and will continue to be remembered as one of the most creative, respected artists of our generation; doing so in only 26 years. Personally, his cover of Vienna, released under his Larry Fisherman alias on SoundCloud, is the song that will be playing through these somber times while I come to terms with this reality. We love you, Easy Mac with the cheesy raps. We hope you find peace wherever your spaceship lands.

The Beautiful Irony of ‘Swimming’ and the Tragic Loss of Mac Miller