(apologies for typos or sentences that don’t make sense. It’s been a day)
In times of distress, we lean on what we know. As I sit here and write this, I’m watching Mac perform on NPR music’s tiny desk on the TV. If you don’t know, Tiny Desk is a concept where artists come into NRP and perform live shows in a cubicle. It really is remarkable that the likes of Tash Sultana, Chance the Rapper, T-pain and Dave Matthews all can perform their amazing music in the same space that I do reporting on a 9-5 job. I look at this person singing Small Worlds, a song that from the start I have to admit, I wasn’t crazy about. Trust me this entire three song drop grew on me, but from the start I wanted some goofy white rapper banger. Mac sits there with a couple artists around him playing instruments and it really, truly, is an incredible showcase of art. The best part has to be the live performance of 2009. To see someone come from “Kool-Aid and Pizza”to having a three person string group on the NPR building is….life changing. Don’t get me wrong, “Wings” and Ladders” are amazing…but 2009 hits me directly in the feels. Not the heart or the brain….just right in the feels. 2009 makes you think about everything. Alright. One shot. Two Shots. Three Shots. Let’s go. Four shots.
You always trust your siblings growing up, and the day that I found a blank CD with black sharpie on it might be one of the most unique moments of mine and my brother Nikko’s entire relationship. I stole that CD….sorry Nikko. It said “Mac Miller” on the top, and on the bottom just reads “K.I.D.S.”. This white guy from Pittsburgh, making music….wow. That was a concept that entirely meant everything to me. That might have been the first moment that I realized, honestly and purely, anything is possibly. I credit the “anything is possible” label to a few people. My mother and father…my brother…my high school best friends…my Creative Drink Friends….these people really do prove that your concept of “anything” has no boundaries. It’s a weird concept to include someone into that group of the closest and most intimate people in your life that you never met. I used a walk-man CD player to listen to this tape. This was after my mother bought me an MP3 player for Christmas. This tape was so good that I chose to listen to it over “Shake your tail feather” in high school, and that’s love. It was a few years later that I found out that someone I now call a very close friend, Big Jerm, was one of the minds behind the music I was obsessed with.
K.I.D.S. Kicking Incredibly Dope Shit. That hit home. The entire mix tape was our lives. Every single thing he said was relatable, but not on a “white kid from Pittsburgh” level. It had a message of misunderstanding about the people our age. If you think I read into the tape too much, I’d argue you didn’t listen to it enough. Every. Single. Song. I thought that this guy got us, as a unit. It wasn’t about anything more than just living, and at the early high school age that’s all I wanted. Watching his team in his videos was, well to name it in 2018, #squadgoals. They had a dream and it wasn’t just banking on one guy making it, it was a collective dream based around someone they believed in.
I remember the exact second I found Best Day Ever. Mike Huet (shoutout if for some reason you read this) and I had a class together, and he really did ask why I had a full on CD player walking through the halls. I told him, “K.I.D.S. bro” and he said “Check out Best Day ever”……that’s like telling a fan of “The Office” to check out parks and rec originally. Yeah, Parks and Rec is awesome….but The Office. But, since Mac was involved, I went home and illegally downloaded it and basically crashed my parents computer. It was that moment I realized that Mac Miller wasn’t just this kid that caught a phase of my life….he caught the exact ambition I wanted to have. It was life changing. I realized it wasn’t just his songs or sound I loved, it was his entire being. This guy got me, and we have never even met. In 2018, I’ve worked with people who sat beside me for two years and never even knew that my favorite part of life was working a clothing booth at a network event for Creatives Drink. But somehow, I felt like Mac would understand that.
When I was at Slippery Rock, Mac Miller was at his college peak. I remember one night I dressed up as Mac Miller and walked around campus. It actually got a few hits, which was the most hysterical part. Guys on my floor and I would battle each other to name the most Mac Miller items we could name…Lyrics, Home Town, High School, everything we could think of. The moment someone told me I looked like Mac was just the happiest point of my time there. Emulating someone who was completely free was almost as good as being free. I could rap “Donald Trump” better than anyone on the planet (other than Mac) and I take that shit to my grave.
Then there was Bouch. For all who don’t know, Nick Bouch was one of the single most impactful humans in my entire life. I remember the day that one of the most important people in my life passed away. After what was a wonderful day with my parents, I got a text asking “Is Bouch okay”. To this day, those words still scare me. I still can’t receive a text without assuming the worst. I cannot imagine the pain his family felt, and I don’t pretend to. The Bouch family is one of the single strongest group of humans I have ever met. I have never, and continue to never, stand for a single ill word spoken against this entire clan. This was the first time that something changed my life where I realized there was no going back. I remember that night vividly because I had bought a bottle of whiskey – small batch bourbon from Mitcher’s- for my anniversary dinner with Kayle the week before. It was gone the next day. I fell to my floor, as I’m assuming many people did that night. I drank, I cried and I instantly thought what could have been different. Please don’t get me wrong; I will never compare the passing of an influential figure with one of a best friend, but it makes you capable of understanding pain. To this day, I have multiple plans in place for Bouch related events and items. You never forget the people who matter. Luckily, transferring to PPU, I had a support group that was strong enough to survive the situation.. Jack was an English player who to this guy I can’t thank enough for his help during those times. We all battle with depression and anxiety, and at low times we just need another human to ask “Are you okay?”. To this day, aside from Jack being a complete jaggoff when it comes to friendship, explain what he meant to me that night. I sit here in tears, years later, and still don’t have the words.
When Mac started getting some big songs, I finally started to appreciate how talented he was. Macadelic was legendary, and I still name Loud, Thoughts from a Balcony, and Fight the Feeling as my favorite Mac songs ever. It’s funny, because a few years later I was lucky enough to meet Big Jerm at Goldmark, a bar in Lawrenceville. I was….wasted? Yeah, let’s go with wasted. I remember our friend Michelle introducing us, and my first words were “LIke…Big Jerm Big Jerm?” Thank god he stuck with the whole “fuck this guy but he’s this amazing girls friend so well deal”, because I largely to this day consider Jerm a very good human and friend. I said “Man, I have SO MANY questions for you”, like any fan would, right? Naw, fuck me, dude goes “Ok shoot.”……wasn’t ready for that. After a quick anti-panic, I asked him what his biggest moment was, and he said “Well I don’t know, I made Loud and that was awesome.”…..I literally hit the floor. (not kidding). Kyle Horrell, one of the purest humans on the planet, had done a cover to Loud by Mac BEFORE I heard Mac’s Loud. I thought this dude made the beat before he went to Full Sail and got a degree in this shit and I literally texted him congratulations. Finding out Jerm made this beat made my knees weak. Loud was arguably the largest Mac song of all time, and I had met the guy. Another massive hit was Party on Fifth Ave. I was Downtown Pittsburgh at this time, and I vividly remember thinking “Wait, which 5th ave?”. I could do this for literally all of Mac’s songs, but the argument stands the test of time – Mac didn’t just make popular songs…he made songs that hit home for Pittsburgh.
Most importantly was “Thoughts from a Balcony”. The entire concept of “I’m up here and yeah that’s cool, but how do I get more”. That shit hit home, so hard. You get to a certain point in your life that you’re just content….no more, no less. That’s a very frustrating concept to understand at a young age. Why should we all just be content with what were doing? Why can’t we, genuinely, say whats next? The best thing about the song is I could be COMPLETELY wrong with my interpretation, but I like to think Mac didn’t care about that. He cared about making you want more, and that’s all his music asked for.
I could go on, and on, and on, and on about the impact this one guy had on me and my team. It was not more than a six hours ago I texted Cody Baker and he had the same reaction as me…tears. Mac wasn’t a representation of making it out of Pittsburgh…he was US making it out. Mac Miller was the closest thing to “The Dream” I had ever seen, and he had his own demons. I think in the face of evil, that is the aspect I will take away the most. Whatever your vice…Depression, Anxiety, Drinking, Drugs, Sex, Gambling, Sex….Whatever impacts your life is not as large as your impact on this planet. There are a few songs I enjoy listening to when I have spells of depression. “Fallin” by Macklemore. “1-800-273-8255” by Logic. And Anything by Mac. This isn’t a joke, either. There wasn’t a second during my own battle with every aspect of the human emotion that a Mac Miller song couldn’t fix. Relationship issues? Missed Calls. Money Issues? Donald Trump. Depressions? Fight the Feeling. Trying to pick up a girl? Wear my Hat. Bangerzzz? Loud. Hate Mac’s Music? Red Dot Music. Literally anything.
All in all, Mac represented our own battle with everything. We all have our demons I can’t even pretend to understand yours, and I hope you can respect mine. Being a human is hard, and that’s nothing to be ashamed about. I love you, and so do a lot of other people. People who might not have had any understanding before now have a glimpse into the overdose nation we live in. I’ve already started deleting people off of social media platforms. Look, take your opinions and fuck yourself. Bouch was more than his problems. Mac is more than his problems. I am more than my problems. We are more than our problems. I really, really, really hope this incident will make you text your friends. There is a reason your friend isn’t out with you. Maybe that reason is he/she is busy, but NEVER take something you love for granted. This isn’t about losing someone who made music…this is about losing humans who make others believe dreams are capable. R.I.P. Mac. Say Hi to Bouch for me.