An ode to Malcolm James McCormick


Adrian Broaddus, Web Editor

Remember EZ Mac? He was a 14-year-old kid out of Pittsburgh and one third of The Ill Spoken. Rap happened to be out of chance for him. He always wanted to be a singer.

Malcolm James McCormick was raised  Jewish and was the self-proclaimed “coolest Jewish rapper.” His mother was a photographer. His dad, an architect. Malcolm was more radical than the two.

Rostrum Records let his creativity flow in the early 2010s, helping Malcolm release K.I.D.S. By 17, before signing with Rostrum, Malcolm made it to the final four in Rhyme Calisthenics, the MC competition at Shadow Lounge. Just a year later, everyone knew him by Mac Miller, where he sold out every show on the Incredibly Dope Tour.

Everyone in Pittsburgh knew EZ Mac, Malcolm McCormick and Mac Miller as the fun-loving, always smiling, white rapper.

Soon the world would know.

As the early days of underground hip-hop mixtapes started gaining more popularity in the early 2010s, so did Mac. He followed up K.I.D.S. with his Best Day Ever mixtape in 2010, and his first full studio album, Blue Slide Park, in 2011. Everyone who watched YouTube in its early stages may remember seeing Mac Miller’s “Knock Knock” music video, or streaming his now classic work, like “Donald Trump.”

XXL magazine’s annual “Freshman Class” recognized him in 2011. Billboard charted his single “Loud” at No. 53 in 2012. And by his seventh mixtape, Macadelic, Mac Miller’s fanbase had grown exponentially.

Like day and night, fans got a whole new Mac Miller in 2013. It was as if he had graduated from his partying college days—or dropped out—and grew up both on the mic and through his production.

While projects like Best Day Ever and Blue Slide Park were like fantasy tales, Mac Miller took cohesiveness over hits on Watching Movies With the Sound Off, which was interestingly released the same day as J. Cole’s Born Sinner and Kanye West’s Yeezus.

Bold move for a 21-year-old.

No matter, Mac Miller went from frat party music to intellectual hip-hop. Songs like “Objects in the Mirror” and “I Am Who Am (Killing Time)” detailed his troubles with depression, mental illness and substance abuse. “Youforia” was sonically unmatched, while “Aquarium” and “Remember” were beautifully produced and lyrically powerful.

Warner Bros and Mac Miller reached an agreement in 2014, thus spawning GO:OD A.M., which was Mac’s most mature album to date. He talked rapped about the struggles of dealing with fame and fortune, while continuing to allude to his apparent drug problem that hadn’t gotten better.

The Divine Feminine came and went as did his relationship with pop-star Ariana Grande. The project was more of a mixtape than a full-flex glimpse at femininity.

Swimming, his fifth and final studio album, revisited his drug abuse and mental state, while mixing in some experimental production and insightful lyrics.

When Mac Miller died from an overdose last week, it came as a disbelief to many. EZ Mac, Malcolm McCormick, Mac Miller was gone from us just as quick as he entered the hip-hop community.

In the heartache comes a celebration of life. He was loved deeply by the hip-hop community, respected among rappers and producers and was usually found with a smile.

But for now we mourn. As his die-hards constantly rooted for him to overcome his addictions, substance abuse engulfed him in the end.

And with his departure goes our angsty teenage years and fun times. We’ll always remember Mac Miller and the impact he left on the music world.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected]