Mac Miller’s untimely death in September sent shockwaves through the rap world. There was an outpouring of love, from his ex Ariana Grande to the dozens of rappers he had worked and associated with throughout the years such as J. Cole, Travis Scott, and Childish Gambino. In his short time in the industry, Mac impacted lives literally from coast to coast.
Some of those figures are set to pay tribute to Mac Miller at an LA benefit concert this Halloween. Proceeds will go to the Mac Miller Circles Fund, ensuring that his charitable legacy lives on past his earthly existence. But how exactly did each name on the bill know Mac? We decided to explore the relationship each of these performers had with Mac for the uninformed.
Action Bronson and Mac Miller are both consumate smokers, so it’s natural that they would have crossed paths in the industry. Not only did they probably share their handful of Ls, they shared the booth. The two collaborated on two tracks that we know of: “Twin Buegots” from Bronsolino’s Blue Chips 2 and “Red Dot Music” from Mac’s Watching Movies With The Sound Off.
Anderson Paak has been working in the industry for a while. Given how close Mac was to LA-based artists, it’s no surprise that they found each other and worked together on the lush “Dang!” from Mac’s 2016 The Divine Feminine album. Anderson lamented in September that he “almost tried to text him,” exemplifying how shocking the news is.
Chance The Rapper
Chance recalled on Twitter that Mac took him “on his second tour ever,” and was one of the “sweetest guys” the Chi town rapper knew. At the time of Mac’s 2013 Space Migration Tour, Chance’s star-making Acid Rap wasn’t even out. Mac did him a solid by introducing him to the country in 2013, so a set at his benefit concert was a gracious gesture.
It’s likely that the 2013 Space Migration Tour is also where Domo and Mac built their relationship. The tour also featured Earl Sweatshirt and The Internet (which featured Odd Future’s Syd The Kyd), meaning that their Odd Future partner Domo was around. They collaborated on 2016’s “Coming Back” from Domo’s Genesis album.
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Sitting here writing this is the hardest thing I have ever done. Malcolm has been my best friend since I was 5 years old. I remember meeting him for the first time in the dugout of a little league game. His face was painted like Spider-Man. We grew up together. He was with me for every low point and was the first person to celebrate all of my highs. He was the type of friend that would drop everything to fly across the country and surprise me at my first cancer appointment. He stayed with me for weeks while I was adjusting to being sick. He shaved his head so that I wouldn’t feel so alone with no hair. He shaved my head. He called me and talked to me while I was in chemo for hours to put a smile on my face. He even went into the surgery room with me, I would have never thought it was possible to laugh while being operated on, but that was Malcolm for you. He is the most magnetic, loyal, caring, and inspiring person I have ever met. I hope that I was even a fraction of a friend to you that you were to me. Words can’t express how much he means to me. I love you Malcolm. I miss you. I don’t know what life is like without you by my side.
Acoustic musician Dylan Reynolds has known Mac since they were five years old in their native Pittsburgh. Dylan reflected on Mac’s generosity, especially while he was dealing with cancer:
He shaved his head so that I wouldn’t feel so alone with no hair. He shaved my head. He called me and talked to me while I was in chemo for hours to put a smile on my face. He even went into the surgery room with me, I would have never thought it was possible to laugh while being operated on, but that was Malcolm for you. He is the most magnetic, loyal, caring, and inspiring person I have ever met.
Like Chance the rapper, Earl got a look on Mac Miller’s 2013 Space Migration Tour. The pair collaborated on several tracks, most notably “New Faces” from Mac Miller’s 2014 Faces album. Earl posted a picture of him and Mac together on Instagram, with a caption that simply read, “rest.” His distress was palpable through his brevity.
Mac Miller was set to bring XXL Freshman JID along with him on his Swimming tour, which demonstrates the respect he had for J.I.D.’s craft. They collaborated with Earthgang on the officially unreleased “Laundry Day,” and Mac also helped J.I.D. develop his Dicaprio 2 album. J.I.D. recently noted that, “Mac came thru and helped post produce and organize on almost every song on here.” It would have been great to see them perform together, but at least J.I.D. will get to pay tribute to him.
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This was going to be Mac Miller’s year. He made a quantum leap in his music. That’s incredibly hard to do, to evolve and get better and more focused while your career is already underway. You don’t get there without a lot of work, and Mac had put the work in. I didn’t expect to play on his album the day he played some songs for me at his house, but when I heard “Small Worlds,” I gave it a short, chirpy little “yup,” which is the highest praise I can give a track. It means we don’t need to say another word, it’s going down. I grabbed the nearest guitar in the room and within a couple of hours we had finished a tune that made me so incredibly happy to have a part in, not to mention we established a nice little friendship. He was so funny I just kind of stopped typing “LOL” back in our texts. Mac was, to me, on permanent LOL status. I gave him whatever guidance I thought I had the right to, having been through the press ringer in the past and wanting him to understand that none of that noise could ever really take a bite out of the music he was about to put out. The last time I saw him, he was playing Hotel Cafe’ in Los Angeles for a crowd of 100 people. He was nervous, and honest about it with the audience. I thought that was so endearing, especially seeing as he would go on to play one of the best sets I’d seen in a very long time. His band was unreal. You gotta know that if you weren’t familiar with Mac Miller, you were about to be, whether you would have seen him at a festival, or a friend was going to catch a show and tell everyone they knew about it (like I did.) Mac put in the work. He made his best album and formed the band that was weeks away from becoming a breakout live sensation. Believe me when I say that. I send my love and support to everyone who knew him better, because what relative little I did, I just adored.
John Mayer was one of many who took to social media to vent their grief at Mac’s passing. Mayer gut-wrenchingly proclaimed, “this was going to be Mac Miller’s year,” and commended Mac for improving his craft throughout his career. He then reflected on Mac’s “Small Worlds,” track, which he played guitar on. Mayer also noted that even though he didn’t know Mac as well as some of his closer peers, their relationship was “permanent LOL status.”
Another one of Mac’s LA friends, the two collaborated on 2015’s “The Weekend” from Mac’s GO:OD AM album. In his tribute post to Mac, Miguel implored people to give others roses while they can still smell them.
Chicago singer-songwriter Njomza collaborated with Mac on the experimental “Kangaroo” and on 2017’s “Creatures Of The Night.” She posted a picture of her and Mac during her first visit to LA, and also posted that, “I miss you. I’m trying to imagine you somewhere in paradise. Praying you’re somewhere smiling.”
Schoolboy Q took Mac’s death exceptionally hard, even postponing his upcoming album because of his grieving process. He told fans at a concert that, “I’m just not ready to walk in the radio station and the first thing they ask me is ‘So Mac Miller…’.” The frequent collaborators held a special bond, which even entailed a “date” Schoolboy took Mac on when he was feeling depressed.
SZA has made it known that before her breakout 2017, she was having a shaky experience in the music industry. It turns out Mac was a part of her support system in those early years. In a heartfelt post, she credited Mac with being a “genuine friend” who was “the first person to believe in me and make stuff w me,” and letting her “come over every day and be whoever I wanted” while she was developing her sound.
Thundercat and Mac weren’t just longtime collaborators, they were very good friends. Thundercat even noted that he was on his way to see Mac on the day he died. The talented musician was a key figure during Mac’s latter years, providing exceptional bass play and guidance on the smooth sounds of his last several albums — including 2018 standout album Swimming. The two had just done an NPR Tinydesk concert in August. Of Mac, Thundercat said that “he cared about me not just as a musician, but as a real friend.” They had “the kind of friendship you can’t make up.”
Travis Scott performed an impromptu freestyle for Mac at a recent Vegas concert, letting him know that he “loved” him. Though the two hadn’t released any music together, the prolific, ambitious artists likely identified with each other as two LA transplants trying to ascend through the music industry.
Ty Dolla $ign
Ty Dolla Sign and Mac collaborated on 2016’s “Cinderella” from The Divine Feminine, where the two showed off their melodic gifts. They were also collaborating on a mixtape at the time of Mac’s death. Ty expressed some guilt in his post for Mac, noting that “I feel like a asshole because I know u we’re goin thru some shit and I’m out here on tour,” before admitting that he “tried to hold every tear back on stage last night but u know what? I love u and I’m crushed you’re gone.”
Vince and Mac both came up around the same time, becoming close friends and frequent collaborators during the process. They even did a mixtape together entitled Stolen Youth. Vince was understandably hurt by Mac’s death, and posted some of Mac’s lines from their ominous “Heaven” collaboration: “I must’ve died and went to heaven…currently in shock it’ll hit me in a second. What’s your question? You need a blessing right? Or you just wondering what heavens like.” He then succinctly noted, “I’ll see you soon. Thank you for everything… for all of this. I love you.”