Mac Miller Dead at 26
Mac Miller has died at the age of 26, Billboard has confirmed. TMZ reports Miller died of an apparent overdose.
The Pittsburgh rapper, singer and producer was reportedly found dead in his San Fernando Valley home on Friday (Sept. 7) afternoon.
His family released a statement on the tragedy, asking for respect during this difficult time. "Malcom McCormick, known and adored by fans as Mac Miller, has tragically passed away at the age of 26," they wrote. "He was a bright light in this world for his family, friends, and fans. There are no further details available as to the cause of his death. Thank you for your prayers. Please respect the family’s privacy at this time."
Miller's label, Warner Bros. Records also released a statement, mourning the loss of one of their greatest talents. “All of us at Warner Bros. Records are deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic news of Mac Miller’s untimely passing," Tom Corson, co-chairman and COO of the label wrote. "Mac was a hugely gifted and inspiring artist, with a pioneering spirit and a sense of humor that touched everyone he met. Mac’s death is a devastating loss and cuts short a life and a talent of huge potential, where the possibilities felt limitless. We join all of his fans across the globe in extending our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.”
In late August, the rapper (born Malcolm James McCormick) was formally charged with two counts of DUI after a May 2018 car crash. That accident came weeks after he and Ariana Grande announced their breakup after two years of dating. Miller spoke openly about his struggles with addiction over the years. In a 2015 interview with Billboard, Miller spoke about pushing back against his drug habits after his debut blew up. "I was doing a lot of drugs around that time, which is another difference now: I’m not doing as many drugs," Miller said. "It just eats at your mind, doing drugs every single day, every second. It’s rough on your body."
In that same interview, Miller said his fear of death pushed him to create as much music as possible: "I’ve got to make sure I make all this music so when I die there’s albums and albums."
Miller was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and released his first mixtape in 2007 at the age of 15. After a series of mixtapes and successes in local rap competitions, he signed to independent label Rostrum Records in 2009, also home to fellow local star Wiz Khalifa. Miller's growing fanbase due to his dexterous flows and amicable persona led to viral success with singles like 2011's "Donald Trump" (which earned a lawsuit threat from the pre-presidential business mogul in 2013; in 2016, Miller appeared on The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore to eviscerate Trump's politics) and "Knock Knock," and the eventual release of his 2011 official debut album Blue Slide Park, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart -- the first independently distributed album of the 21st century to do so.
While the resounding success of Miller's debut LP made him a star at age 20, he often found himself the target of critics for frat-ready hits like Slide's "Party on Fifth Ave," and received negative reviews for the album in publications like Pitchfork and Rolling Stone. He dialed back the easygoing party vibe of his early work for more experimental, meditative later albums like 2013's Watching Movies With the Sound Off and 2014's GO:OD AM, which didn't generate chart hits on the level of Blue Slide Park, but solidified Miller's fanbase, won over many critics, and kept him as an in-demand touring attraction and steady album seller.
The only Hot 100 top 40 hit Miller had in his lifetime was as a featured artist on "The Way," the 2013 top 10 breakthrough hit for burgeoning pop star Ariana Grande. Though Miller and Grande's chemistry was kept strictly to the record (and a kiss in its music video) at the time, by 2016, the two would start a relationship, first appearing together publicly at that year's MTV Video Music Awards. The two would maintain their personal and professional relationship for the next two years, with Grande appearing on Miller's The Divine Feminine single "My Favorite Part" that September, and Miller performing "The Way" with Grande at the One Love Manchester concert, following the terrorist attack outside the former's concert at Manchester Arena in May 2017.
However, by May 2018, the couple had broken up, with Grande confirming the split as amicable. Shortly after the announcement, Miller was arrested for a DUI and hit-and-run after crashing his Mercedes and leaving the scene of the California accident. Following news of the incident, Twitter response that blamed Grande for Miller's apparent spiraling inspired Grande to speak up about what she referred to as a "toxic relationship," saying that she "tried to support his sobriety and prayed for his balance for years" and that she continues "to pray from the bottom of my heart that he figures it all out."
Miller was never formally tried for the incident, and in August of this year, he released his fifth album Swimming -- his most personal LP to date, dealing with many of his personal demons, though most of it was recorded before his breakup or crash. It received the strongest reviews of his career, and scored a No. 3 debut on the Billboard 200, his fifth consecutive top five debut on the chart. "I really wouldn’t want just happiness,” he told Vulture in a profile published just this Thursday (Sept. 6). “And I don’t want just sadness either. I don’t want to be depressed. I want to be able to have good days and bad days."