“My first reaction was to scream. I was like NOOOOOOO and kept screaming NO WAY because he’s my favorite. I told my roommate and we were both shook,” Castleton student Kyle Burns said recounting when he found out rapper Mac Miller was dead.
Sophomore Carly Suzio was also shocked, in part because she had tickets to see Miller at Madison Square Garden in two months.
“My friend texted me and said Mac Miller died and I did not believe her. I don’t know how to not be sad right now,” Suzio said
One student said she didn’t want to be interviewed because she didn’t think she would be able to handle talking about it.
It’s safe to say the Castleton University community was torn up over the terrible news on Sept. 7. A friend of Miller found him unresponsive in his Los Angeles home, where he was later pronounced dead by paramedics from a suspected overdose.
Whether you are active on social media, an avid fan of hip hop, or just like keeping up with the latest celebrity gossip, chances are you’ve heard about Mac Miller (born Malcolm James McCormick) passing away.
For those who aren’t familiar, Mac Miller was a successful hip hop artist/producer from Pittsburgh who gained countrywide popularity in 2010 with his “K.I.D.S.” mixtape and subsequent Incredibly Dope Tour.
The “K.I.D.S.” mixtape was often mentioned by CU students as a favorite Miller project. And nostalgia was a common thread while reminiscing about the impact Miller had on students’ lives.
“Every good high school memory I have I associate with that song,” Suzio said of “The Spins,” a song featured on the “K.I.D.S.” mixtape.
“I’ve always listened to “K.I.D.S.” in any setting. Skiing, parties, car rides, or just hanging out. It’s a timeless album so it will never get old,” said Andy Coffin, another Castleton senior.
With five studio albums, a dozen mixtapes, as well as a slew of production credits, Miller has a substantial amount of material to choose from.
Student Ben Castle chose “Senior Skip Day” as his favorite Miller track.
“It just brings me back. I like the chill message it sends, and it has a fantastic music video to go along with it,” Castle said.
Evan Newkirk is a junior on the Castleton University baseball team. He remembers riding in his older brother’s car when he heard Mac Miller for the first time.
“My brother saw him in Buffalo, New York and he thought he was a great performer,” Newkirk said.
This was the common theme for many former middle schoolers who had older siblings. Whether students discovered him on their own, or had a sibling or a friend unveil him for the first time, Miller definitely found a way into countless CU lives through his music.
When asked of Miller’s legacy, many students offered similar responses.
“He was one of the few white rappers. But that never played a factor…he was one of the few that were accepted by the (hip-hop) culture,” stated Drew Hersom after he pondered on how to describe the right words to pay Miller homage.
And there was a lot of homage paid in the days following Miller’s passing. Celebrities, athletes, and other artists used their platforms to pay their respects. Running back James Conner of the Pittsburgh Steelers wore custom “Thank You Mac” cleats to commemorate the artist. West Coast rapper ScHoolboy Q postponed his latest album’s release date in order to properly grieve the loss of his friend.
“Personally, he impacted me a lot,” stated senior Pat Mumford.
“His music was next level, it was just great music,” said Mumford. “His discography is so strong from beginning to end, you can watch his growth as an artist.”
Students also alluded to the notion that addiction knows no boundaries. Even mainstream fame, success and money aren’t always guaranteed to make you forget the struggles you are going through.
Mac Miller lost his battle dealing with drug abuse, but his message will live on through his music.
When asked his opinion on addiction, Hersom stated “It is glorified in music, but the reality is not so glorious.”