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In Memoriam: How Mac Miller, XXXtentacion and Lil Peep Helped Me Overcome My Own Demons

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The 2017-2018 year has been a hard one for many music fans all over with the passing of many prominent artists. It’s definitely been a hard one for me. This year alone I’ve lost two of my favorite artists of all time in Mac Miller and XXXtentacion, and one last year with the loss of Lil Peep.  In the time of Peep and X’s passing, I wanted to write separate “goodbye” articles for both of them, but due to sadness and others aspects of my life that were piling up at the time, I was not able to. Because I constantly regret this, I chose not to make the same mistake with Mac’s death, and decided to compile my thoughts about all three of these artists into a single article, where I can now hopefully give them the fitting goodbye I have always meant to.

Mac Miller

My first time listening to Mac Miller was in 8th grade. The first song I heard by him was “100 Grandkids.” from his “GO:OD AM” album. I found myself attracted to the trumpets which carried the beat, as well as Mac’s slightly raspy but powerful voice and lyrics. The first lyrics start off with the words “Made a promise to my momma that I’d bless her with some grandkids, she could spoil them.” It pains me that Mac, who passed away at age 26, could never live out this promise. Out of all of the deaths from the past year, Mac’s was the one that surprised me the most. It’s hard to believe that someone as pure and genuine as him could die so untimely, and I still haven’t been able to wrap my head around it. Never in my life can I say that I’ve seen Mac Miller try and pretend to be someone that he wasn’t, which was something I respect highly in a time period where everyone is trying to do the exact opposite. Mac was down to earth, he was funny, a free spirit, and by far one of the grooviest human beings to ever grace this earth. His music was some of the most personal I’ve ever heard, from the times where his lyrics were seen as “frat rap,” up to the more self-conscious rhymes that you heard on his 2016 effort “The Divine Feminine” and his most recent album “Swimming.” Mac had been struggling with sobriety issues as well as constant struggles with self-care, anxiety, depression. “Swimming” was the album where he was the most open about his battles and how he used music as an outlet to battle his own demons and other things that were affecting him.  Mac will always be an inspiration for me as I go down my own path of life. May he rest in peace.

Lil Peep

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I had been listening to Lil Peep’s music for about a year before he passed away on the night of November 15, 2017. I was asleep when Peep passed, and when I woke up and read the headline “Lil Peep, 21, dead after apparent overdose,” I fell down my stairs in complete shock. Over the year that I was listening to him, Peep had evolved into one of my favorite artists due to the way he linked the sound of early 2000’s rock music (think Blink-182, Green Day, Good Charlotte, etc) with millennial rap lyrics and subject matter. It was truly something I had never heard before, and his mixtape “Hellboy” became one of my most frequent listens on Soundcloud (and still is). Peep was one of the kindest, most dedicated, and talented human beings I had ever seen in the music industry. In any interview you watch of him, you can see the smile that lit up every room he walked in and that made thousands of fans go wild. Every song you heard provided you with a new take on his life’s journey and what he was discovering through it. The last Instagram picture he ever posted alive was a picture of three of his female fans with the caption “Look at my beautiful fans awwwww.” I loved Lil Peep not only because of his personality, but because of his honesty and dauntless ability to portray his real-life experiences in his music, whether if it was with his battle with sobriety, the women in his life, or his constant conflict with depression or anxiety. It’s almost been a year since Lil Peep passed, and it’s still hard to believe that he’s gone. I will always be grateful for the joy that he gave me and other fans while he was still here.


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Out of all the deaths that happened this year, X’s death was the one that hit me the hardest, and that was probably because I saw some of myself in him. He’s one of my favorite artists ever, and one of the most polarizing enigmas in hip-hop. But aside from that, he was a black man with much to live for who was gunned down at age 21 for $50,000 and a Louis Vuitton bag. Due to X’s violent past and multiple court cases that had been detrimental to his career and psyche, people saw him as a criminal that deserved nothing but a life sentence and a prison cell. I saw X as an intelligent and forward-thinking young man who had admitted to the wrongdoings of his past and was constantly trying to make up for it by spreading positivity. He was an attention grabber and a deep thinker, who didn’t let his young age or social status affect his mindset. My first time hearing XXXtentacion was when hip-hop vlogger and podcast host Adam 22’s interviewed him on his Youtube channel. Even then, you could tell that his mindset was beyond his years.  XXXtentacion’s music is phenomenal, but his message was my favorite part about him. During his life, every move that he had made was planned out for success. I believe that X saw his future and wanted to make as big of an impact that he could while he was here, which is why I said I see myself in him. X further instilled in me that in order to make an impact, I need to focus on myself and spreading positivity. This was the main thing that he tried to do while he was on Earth, and it is something that I will try to do for the rest of my time here too.

His music helped me cope through tough times, and his voice offered the understanding I needed when I believed no one understood what I was going through. X is someone who will be misunderstood by common society, however I believe this is exactly what he wanted. His mystery was apart of his creative vision and further turned him into the legend that I believe he is. His legacy will live forever. May his soul rest in peace.

For generations, hip-hop fans have been dealing with the losses of their favorite artists in tragic ways. Fans of late 80’s to mid 90’s hip-hop lost Eazy-E to AIDS and Tupac and Biggie to murder within months of each other. Now, Peep and Mac both died from drug overdose, and XXXtentacion was murdered outside of a motorcycle dealership. Although painful, I choose to use the deaths of these three young men as a message to live my life, make an impact while I’m young, and most importantly invest in the future. All of these men understood how underrated the young mind was, and they were living breathing examples of the youth doing extraordinary things.

It’s always hard to see your favorite artist go, and especially hard when three of them pass away with so much life ahead of them. Despite this and the fact that we all have our demons, and I can say I’m proud that Mac, Peep, and X all passed away trying their hardest to fight them. I believe that they’re all looking down now, watching over all of us and continuing to spread the same love and support that they did while existing on earth. For this, I want to say thank you. Rest in peace, Young Legends.

Mack, 16, attends North Atlanta High School and is VOX ATL’s audio editor.

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