The late Mac Miller was one of hip hop’s most prominent white MCs. With hits such as ‘Party On Fifth Ave’ and ‘Self Care’, Miller was undeniably a force to be reckoned with when it came to lyricism and bringing good vibes.
Mac Miller rose to fame at a similar time to the likes of Tyler The Creator, A$AP Rocky and Yung Lean during the early 2010s. While the early 2010s saw an influx of young black and Latino creatives rise out of Harlem in New York, a strange surge in talent came out of Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh. This saw artists such as Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa and Chevy Woods coming into the spotlight with quality rap.
Miller (real name Malcolm McCormick) had an organic come-up right in his hometown, and with a flourishing rap scene in the city, he did not need to relocate to see success. With his career commencing around 2008, Miller got stuck into the local hip hop scene. Through playing open mic nights, creating demos and networking around Pittsburgh, by 2010, Miller was signing with Pittsburgh-based independent record label Rostrum Records.
Rostrum Records had already successfully broken Wiz Khalifa as an artist that year, and Mac Miller was their next prodigy. Only 18 years old, in 2010, Miller released his breakthrough mixtapes K.I.D.S and Best Day Ever. Prior to his two mixtapes on the label, Miller had already recorded and released three independently.
But My Mackin’ Ain’t Easy, The Jukebox: Prelude to Class Clown and The High Life all performed exceptionally well on the mixtape-sharing platform DatPiff, and accumulated a lot of downloads individually. As a result, Miller had droves of fans, and now they were waiting for an album.
Following his two Rostrum mixtapes, in 2011, Miller released his debut album Blue Side Park. Named after Pittsburgh’s Frick Park (known locally as “Blue Slide Park”), the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, making it the first independently-distributed album to top the chart since 1995.
Releasing only one more album through the Pittsburgh-based independent label in 2014, Miller’s contract with Rostrum came to an end. Not wanting to renew the contract, Miller formed his own label REMember Music. The label soon became an imprint of Warner Bros as Miller entered his first major label deal.
Already established with a solid fanbase, at Warner Bros, Miller would release GO:OD AM in 2015, The Divine Feminine in 2016, and Swimming in 2018. However, while at Warner Bros, although Miller was still producing music, he had persistent personal issues.
Miller dealt with substance abuse and fame-induced depression. Miller even admitted that as a form of stress management, he frequently consumed promethazine (sleeping pills) and enjoyed a tipple of lean. Partnered with the pressure of being in a public relationship with singer Ariana Grande, in 2018, Miller died from an overdose of fentanyl, cocaine, and alcohol. After his death, only one posthumous record was released. Entitled Circles, it was material Miller had been working on before his death.
During his career, Mac Miller released six studio albums, two extended plays, two live albums and an extensive thirteen mixtapes. In an in-depth interview with Complex magazine before he passed, Miller revealed his musical inspirations, his favourite artists and even his favourite albums of all time. Read below to find out more about Miller’s favourite albums.
Mac Miller’s favourite hip hop albums of all time:
A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders, (1993)
A Tribe Called Quest’s third studio album, Midnight Marauders, is a classic East Coast jazz-hop album. With its second single, ‘Electric Relaxation’ considered a New York classic, Midnight Marauders peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200. Speaking on why it’s one of his favourites, Miller simply stated, “For the real hip-hop!”
Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, (1993)
The Wu-Tang Clan is one of hip-hop’s most legendary collectives and was one of the most impactful crews of the 1990s. Released on Loud Records, Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers was the crew’s debut album and showcased the nine-piece ensemble at its best.
Among some of the singles are ‘Protect Ya Neck’ and ‘C.R.E.A.M’. Coming from the streets, Method Man once admitted that ‘Protect Ya Neck’ was wholly funded through the selling of crack. Costing around $900 in total to record and press-up. Miller loved Wu-Tang and again simply stated, “That reeeeeeeal hiiiiiiip-hop.”
Big L – Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous,(1995)
Big L, akin to Mac Miller, did not get the chance to have a long-spanning career. However, similarly, they both made a large impact in a short amount of time. Big L was considered one of the greatest rappers in New York during the late 1990s and, under the wing of Lord Finesse, Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous, most definitely set a precedent for hip hop albums.
Speaking on how the 1995 album heavily impacted him, Miller revealed, “It’s the album that made me start rapping. Everybody knows that about me. That’s who I used to try to be like. I used to be a f*cking straight gangster street rapper from the projects of New York. Did I ever play you when I was a gritty New York rapper from the projects? It’s definitely on YouTube. It’s crazy, I was 15, I was robbing people, and I was into the East Coast/West Coast beef [in my raps].”
Fugees – The Score, (1996)
The Fugees were an interesting trio. Comprised of Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michael, their soulful yet conscious style was an instant head-turner and their second album, The Score, proved how popular they were as it became one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Released in 1996, hits such as ‘Ready or Not’ have been covered numerous times and sampled by various artists. With singles such as ‘No Woman, No Cry’ and ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’, The Score went on to win two Grammys at the 1997 Grammy awards, for ‘Best Rap Album’ and for ‘Best R’n’B Vocal Performance by Duo or Group’.
On his love of The Score, Miller divulged, “Who doesn’t like Lauryn Hill? Anybody? I love how that album plays. I love the sounds used in that album, I’m going to play you the greatest sound in the world off that album, one time. This sound [Plays The Fugees’ ‘Zealots’] is the greatest sound in the world.”
Outkast – Aquemini, (1998)
Aquemini was Atlants duo Outkast’s third album and was released as a follow-up to their highly successful 1996 album, ATLiens. Featuring a range of different artists, including the likes of Raekwon, George Clinton, and Erykah Badu, Aquemini is truly a well-rounded hip hop album.
The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and was so popular that it was certified platinum two months after its release. It went on to be certified double platinum in 1999.
50 Cent – Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, (2003)
The first 50 Cent album, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, is the kind of debut album everyone dreams of having. One which goes straight to the top and turns heads, and that’s exactly what this 2003 album did.
With Eminem and Dr Dre credited as the album’s executive producers, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ sold 872,000 copies in its first week and 12 million units worldwide. By the end of 2003, the album had already been certified six times platinum. The album’s lead single, ‘In Da Club’ has 1.5 Billion views on YouTube and is one of the most well-known hip hop songs of all time.
Speaking on his love for the album and one track, in particular, Miller dubbed the project as “F*cking brilliant! I love that album. You can play ‘Many Men’ at any point in life, and it will succeed.”
Lil Wayne – Da Drought 3, (2007)
One of many instalments in Lil Wayne’s Drought mixtape series, Da Drought 3 mostly consists of covers. Released independently as a mixtape, it wasn’t eligible for the charts but was still praised.
Speaking on people’s criticisms of Lil Wayne, Miller exclaimed, “I’m so sick of people saying things about Wayne. I’m so sick of it. I understand that the reason that everyone talks shit is because they know that he at one point, was the Best Rapper Alive, and they just wish he could get back to that place. All the things people say isn’t what they actually want to say. They just say angry things, but what they really want to say is emotional, like, ‘I really just miss you.’ But Wayne doesn’t care…I’m excited for the tour.”
Kanye West – Graduation, (2007)
Kanye’s best-selling album. Graduation, was Ye’s third full studio album. Released in 2007, Graduation was groundbreaking, and it shifted the sonics of hip hop. Graduation incorporated more digital and electronic sounds than a usual rap album. From here, hip hop, began to embrace synthesis and sequencing, two things typically associated with electronic dance music. Graduation is often considered the reason “Gangsta Rap” died and is considered the album that digitalized the sound of hip hop.
Speaking on his love for the album Mac Miller disclosed, “Kanye West man, he’s fucking Yeezus dude. It’s a great album. I remember the impact of it. The one thing I love about Kanye is he’s one of the people I can remember listening to from the beginning. Maybe not as like his own mixtape shit because I was young and not in the mixtape game, but I’ve listened to every Kanye album as its been released and that’s why I like Kanye a lot. Like when The Fugees’ The Score came out, how old was I? Like two? So this is like tight because every album I was there, like next door to him.”
Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron, (2013)
A new school classic, LA rapper School Boy Q’s Oxymoron was his major label debut album. With production from Pharrell and Tyler The Creator, Oxymoron debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, With guest appearances from fellow LA rappers Kendrick Lamar and Tyler The Creator, as well as Wu-Tang’s Raekwon and more the album was truly incredible and was certified platinum.
Speaking on the album, Miller revealed, “I haven’t even heard it. Sike, I’ve heard most of it. Incredible. It’s really good. I’m not saying shit about it because it’s not my album. All I’m saying is Q put together an incredible album. It’s the best album to come out on TDE ever!”
Mac Miller’s favourite hip hop albums of all time:
- A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders, (1993)
- Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, (1993)
- Big L – Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, (1995)
- Fugees – The Score, (1996)
- Outkast – Aquemini, (1998)
- 50 Cent – Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, (2003)
- Lil Wayne – Da Drought 3, (2007)
- Kanye West – Graduation, (2007)
- Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron, (2013)