By Michelle Lampariello
Editor in Chief
The premature death of rapper Mac Miller, 26, has left many fans shocked, saddened and questioning what could have been done to prevent the musician’s apparent overdose. Mourning fans have been inundated with headlines about Miller’s drug addiction, his high-profile split with Ariana Grande and his DUI incident earlier this year.
When news of Miller’s death broke, not much attention was given to his music, and many were quick to omit details about the Aug. 3 release of his album “Swimming.” The emphasis on Miller’s personal life and prior transgressions have angered some fans, who feel that he should be remembered not as anyone’s ex-boyfriend, but rather as a talented and dedicated rapper.
“Swimming” provides listeners a glimpse into Miller’s mind during what became final months alive. Tracks like “Self Care” and “Come Back to Earth” reflect his rather bleak sense of self, and his desire to move beyond regrets from his past. While the album’s title implies that Miller is powering through his personal demons and continuously moving onto his next goal, there are several references to drowning on the album, suggesting that Miller is unsuccessful in his attempts to keep moving forward.
“I’m treading water I swear / That if I drown I don’t care,” Miller raps in “Perfecto.” He also mentions drowning in “Come Back to Earth,” rapping “And I was just drowning, but now I’m swimming.”
In “Self Care,” Miller details his desire to avoid the spotlight, especially in the aftermath of the end of his long-term relationship with Grande. He mentions “getting stuck in oblivion,” and many regard the track as Miller foreshadowing his own death, as the music video depicts him inside a coffin.
Eerily, Miller references his death several times on the album. “Nine lives, never die, fuck a heaven, I’m still gettin’ high,” Miller raps in “So It Goes,” which, coincidentally, is a reference to Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five,” where the phrase is used every time a character dies.
Overall, the lyrics in “Swimming” carry much more weight than the music itself. Fans are deeply attached to this final chance to get a glimpse into Miller’s world, and the rapper spares no details in his raw and powerful lyrics. However, Miller says it himself in the album — “It ain’t 2009 no more.”
Fans of upbeat tracks like “Donald Trump” and “Senior Skip Day” are left without much content to dance to on “Swimming,” as most of the tracks are a similar blend of downtempo, almost melancholy beats.
Unless rumors of Miller releasing music posthumously turn out to be true, “Swimming” is fans’ last chance to listen to music from the beloved rapper, and gives listeners a chance to feel closer to him.