Mac Miller never shied away from discussing his drug usage but even he knew it inevitably had a dark ending.
The rapper, who died Friday at age 26, struggled with substance abuse for years, often writing songs about his daily drug usage, mental health, and desire for sobriety.
Miller’s career took off in 2011 when he released his debut album Blue Slide Park. Following the chart-topping album’s release and his move from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles, Miller began to rely on marijuana to cope with stress while touring. But soon, the rapper turned to promethazine, codeine, and cocaine to manage his mental state.
During a Complex interview in 2013, Miller admitted to using lean — a combination of promethazine and codeine — to cope with his depression. The rapper explained that criticism and stress from his Macadelic mixed tape tour in 2012 led him to rely on the addictive drug.
“I love lean; it’s great,” he told the magazine. “I was not happy and I was on lean very heavy [during the Macadelic tour.] I was so f–ed up all the time it was bad. My friends couldn’t even look at me the same. I was lost.”
Miller told Complex he attempted to quit lean multiple times, but wasn’t successful until November 2012, before beginning production on his MTV2 reality series Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family.
In May 2014, the rapper released his tenth solo mixtape, Faces. On it, Miller discussed his battle with depression, explaining how “a drug habit like Philip Hoffman will probably put me in a coffin.” He also made references throughout the songs to cocaine, codeine cough syrup, and angel dust.
A year later, Miller seemed to be doing better, both physically and mentally. Speaking to Billboard after the release of his 2015 album GO:OD AM, he discussed his path to sobriety, his changing mindset and acknowledged how his new album was much different from his “depressing” previous work.
“I was doing a lot of drugs around that time,” Miller revealed. “Which is another difference now: I’m not doing as many drugs. It just eats at your mind, doing drugs every single day, every second. It’s rough on your body.”
He also admitted to having suicidal thoughts before releasing his album, on which he claimed “every single song is about coke [and] drugs,” in 2014.
“That was the plan with Faces: [Closing song] “Grand Finale” was supposed to be the last song I made on earth,” Miller explained. “I don’t feel that way as much anymore.”
When asked about his mental and physical health, Miller was confident about his progress and claimed he was “way healthier” than he was in the past, though the rapper acknowledged he still struggled with substance abuse.
“I still smoke cigarettes. I’m not completely sober, but I’m way better than I was at that point,” he said. “I was afraid of what my life had become. But once you just breathe and relax, you come to terms with it. This is my life, I enjoy it, and it’s OK that I enjoy it.”
Although Miller admitted to feeling ashamed of his addiction and “hiding” parts of his life, he was still able to find the silver lining in his complicated world.
“You’ve got to look in the mirror and tell yourself to stop being a little bitch: ‘OK, dude, you’re 23 and this is your f—ing life. Go out there and do it, stop hiding,’ because that was me before,” he said. “Great music came from it, but I’d rather be in the place I’m at now… I’m not 100 percent clean, but I’m not a piece of s— anymore. I can look in the mirror and be like, ‘I look OK.’”
Added Miller: “I was too worried about the legacy that I would leave behind — how I would be remembered if I died. That was my whole thing. Like, you never know, man, so I’ve got to make sure I make all this music so when I die there’s albums and albums. But now, I’m going to make sure I do some s— in life, too.”
Two years after getting sober in 2015, Miller told W Magazine that after having “spent a good time very sober…now I’m just, like, living regularly.”
“I don’t believe in absolute anything, but I think not sharing that type of information, because it becomes like, ‘Oh he’s sober, oh he’s not, oh he has a beer, oh my God.’ I just realized some things are important to just keep for yourself,” he added.
In February 2016, the rapper released a personal documentary, Stopped Making Excuses. In it, Miller got candid about his drug use, claiming he would “never stop” and also revealed that “overdosing” — which became the ultimate downfall for the rapper — was “not cool.”
“I get f—ed up, let’s keep it real,” he said. “I get super f—ed up, still, all the time. That will never stop. But I’m in control of my life. I’m not f—ed up right now. I’m chillin.”
Added the “Donald Trump” singer: “I’d rather be the corny white rapper than the drugged-out mess that can’t even get out of his house. Overdosing is just not cool. There’s no legendary romance. You don’t go down in history because you overdosed. You just die.”