By Maristela Romero

Mac Miller’s fifth studio album “Swimming undertakes a heavier tone from previous projects as he lyricizes his attempts at staying afloat during his lowest times. The rapper’s recent death adds a heavy weight to the existing poignancy in his final album.

Jazz-infused rhythms carry over from his 2016 release, “The Divine Feminine,” an album in which he truly elevated his artistry from his “frat rap” style, as described by Rolling Stone, and began to experiment with adding more depth to his beats and his verses.

Miller maintains a nonchalant energy throughout his tracks especially in “Hurt Feelings” and “So It Goes.” It almost feels like having a friend sit you down for a coffee while he tells you casually that he’s lost his mind, but it’s all good so don’t worry about it.

Personally, I couldn’t help but think, ‘Mac, are you okay?’

His death made it all the more heartbreaking to listen to the album, as with each song he openly reflects on his constant state of unhappiness, his struggles with sobriety and finding the spirit to lift himself out of it.

“Miller’s flow is limber and self-deprecating; he tries any pattern of singing or rapping that might lift his spirits for a few seconds,” Pitchfork said of the rapper’s lyrics.

Although Miller went through a breakup with Ariana Grande, whom he dated for two years, and got himself into a DUI crash earlier in the year, he voiced during an interview with Vulture that he had been struggling with his mental health for a long time.

“I don’t want to be depressed,” Miller said. “I want to be able to have good days and bad days.”

His verses throughout songs like “Ladders” and “Come Back to Earth” allude to the title and theme of the album, keeping his head above the troubles that have been weighing him down:

Feel it a little, feel it a lot

I’m swimmin’ a bit, but deeper in thought

Keepin’ my head on top of my shoulders

Into some shit, I’m out of the box

– “Ladders”

In my own way, this feel like living

Some alternate reality

And I was drowning, but now I’m swimming

Through stressful waters to relief

….

And don’t you know that sunshine don’t feel right

When you inside all day

I wish it was nice out, but it looked like rain

Grey skies and I’m drifting, not living forever

They told me it only gets better

– “Come Back to Earth”

Mac Miller was slowly evolving as a hip-hop artist and exhibited his potential to become bigger than he already was. And his best was yet to unfold.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mac Miller’s website.

Maristela Romero is a sophomore journalism and public health science major and can be reached at romero.maristela@gmail.com.

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