Stevens: Dealing with tragedy the wrong way

The last ten months has seen the Hip Hop community coping with the loss of three major artists. Rappers Lil Peep and XXXTentacion passed away earlier this year, but most recently, Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller was found dead in his California home. The death was ruled an apparent overdose which sparked a lot of controversy and misdirected backlash at singer-songwriter Ariana Grande due to their recent breakup.

Their relationship began two years ago, which led to a newfound happiness that helped Mac sober up and inspired him to write more upbeat songs about love and enjoying life. Unfortunately, their relationship ended in May of this year. In the following week it became clear that Mac was no longer sober, and only eight days after the break up he crashed his car and was charged with a DUI.

Fans flooded Twitter and Instagram with their feelings about the breakup. Most people respectfully tweeted their condolences, but some saw the situation differently, as seen in this popular tweet from user Elijah Flint: “Mac Miller totaling his G wagon and getting a DUI after Ariana Grande dumped him for another dude after he poured his heart out on a ten song album to her called the divine feminine is just the most heartbreaking thing happening in Hollywood.

This idea not only unjustly villanizes Ariana by blaming her for Mac’s actions, but is also insulting to Mac as it strips him of his personal autonomy. Ariana addressed these ideas in her response by saying that it is, “absurd that you minimize female self-respect and self worth by saying someone should stay in a toxic relationship because he wrote an album about them.”

Fast forward to September 7th when Mac was found dead. The Hip Hop community and fans around the world mourned his death.

Deciding how to react to the death of someone is incredibly difficult and everyone copes differently, but blaming somebody you don’t know is wrong. The dynamic of Ariana and Mac’s relationship remains largely unknown, but Mac’s struggles with drugs and alcohol have always been public knowledge, and acting like these problems were created by Ariana is at best uninformed, and at worst intentionally hurtful.

Regardless of what exactly ended the relationship between Ariana and Mac, it was Ariana’s right to walk away, and how Mac coped with the separation was of his own choosing. When you’re in a relationship with someone, even if it lasts for a long time, you are never obligated to stay no matter the circumstances.

Mac’s death was untimely and tragic to the outside world, but within his music it almost sounds like he saw it coming. In one line off the song “Perfect Circle/God Speed” Mac raps:

Everybody say I need rehab

Cause I’m speedin’ with a blindfold on and won’t be long ‘til they watching me crash

And they don’t wanna see that

They don’t want me to OD and have to talk to my mother

Telling her they could have done more to help me

And she’ll be crying saying that she’ll do anything to have me back

It’s clear that Mac was honest in his music, which was in part what created his large fan base. Mac’s music feels real and human, chronicling the struggles of a person battling depression and substance abuse. True Mac Miller fans who have listened to his music for what it is and heard the story he’s trying to tell will find his death all the more tragic. Mac knew he was headed down a rough path and he clearly wanted to avoid it, even if only for his family’s sake.

Mac was a wonderful person who touched the lives of many, myself included. He was a smart and genuine guy who knew he had problems, and to blame Ariana for his death is disrespectful to both Ariana’s and Mac’s memory. His music shaped the lives of young people across the country, and though he’s gone, his memory will live on in his music forever.

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Andrew Stevens

Andrew Stevens