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I Grew up Listening to Rapper Mac Miller Long Before the Critics Tuned in

I Grew up Listening to Rapper Mac Miller Long Before the Critics Tuned in

Mac Miller, the late Pittsburgh rapper was just a teen writing songs for teens

I still listen to Mac Miller regularly. My admiration began almost a decade ago.

On Nov. 8, 2011, I was a junior in high school on Long Island, wrapping up another soccer season. Chances are it was a regular Tuesday like my 16-year-old self had experienced 1,288 times before.

On the same day 400 miles west in Pittsburgh, 19-year-old Malcom James McCormick, a.k.a. Mac Miller, was releasing his first debut album. Although it was his first, his name was already very much alive and known in the minds of the younger generation, including myself.

Mac Miller goes mainstream

When Miller released that album, Blue Slide Park, the Pittsburgh native had already been on the music scene for four years, dropping multiple mixtapes on the internet for download.

Before the streaming service boom, my older brother was someone who spent hours poring over internet forums to find new music, hoping to find a diamond in the rough. He found that diamond in 2009 when we both were first introduced to Mac Miller.

His music wasn’t just about money, cars, or clothes. It was “kool-aid and frozen pizza” (one of his most popular songs from his teenage days). He was one of us writing music for us. A 17-year-old writing songs about 17-year-old things, going to parties, the girl who broke his heart, being broke, and mostly, his hometown.

Mac Miller
Fans of the late Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller walk through a museum pop-up in Los Angeles. [Photo by Sean O’Donnell/Artistic Fuel]

The album Blue Slide Park takes its name from a section of Pittsburgh’s Frick Park, where an old slide runs down the side of a small hill near where Miller grew up. He loved his home and expressed this through his music. His songs capture the essence of his childhood neighborhood to the city he proudly represented.

Critics gave the album mixed reviews and famously received a 1/10 score from Pitchforkwhile the metacritic score topped out at 58/100.

Miller revealed in an interview in 2013 with Complex that he was distraught with the reviews “A lot of the reviews were more on me as a person,” he said. “To be honest, that was even worse.”

Blue Slide Park – a legacy

Blue Slide Park is now adorned in art and tributes to Mac Miller. It’s a show of love and respect from the people of Pittsburgh.

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The park is named “Mac Miller’s Blue Slide Playground.” It’s even on Google Maps. It is a fitting tribute to the young man who shed light on this area of his childhood. 

Blue Slide Park debuted at No. 1 in that pivotal week in November 2011, with 144,000 sales. It was the first independently released album to do so since 1995. In the nine years since its release, the album has sold well over 500,000 copies. It has helped inspire a a new generation of young rappers as well.

Even though there seem to be new artists popping up every day, you could argue that no young rapper has captured the magic that Miller did in 2011.

To the next generation of young artists may want to give to the Mac Miller Fund. Money raised goes to programming, resources and opportunities for youth. This includes helping those in undeserved communities recognize their full potential through exploration in the arts and community building.

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