Another celebrity's stans aim at a misguided target

It all started with Goodreads.

USA About: Mac Miller Publish: 02/15/2022 Edit: 02/15/2022 Author: Gardener

GoodreadsThere's no other story in hip-hop like that of Malcolm McCormick, aka Mac Miller. A wealthy white boy from Pennsylvania with a passion for music and some freestyle skills starts releasing mixtapes on the internet while still in high school. He uses various social media platforms to promote his music, build a following, and connect with artists in Pittsburgh and across the country. But his music is as much reviled by critics as it is popular, and Mac swings from youthful anthems about life is good to much darker explorations of his tormented inner psyche. This new material polarizes the fan base but is better celebrated, and it has been co-signed by many highly respected rap artists; He's also learning how to make beats and uses that skill to help other aspiring musicians advance their platforms. Within a few years, Mac signs a multi-million dollar major label deal, dates one of the world's most popular pop stars, and dies at the age of 26 of a drug overdose. Mac's family and friends keep his legacy alive by re-issuing his mixtapes and producing documentaries. Whatever one may have thought of Mac's work, it is undeniable that in his all-too-short life he had an enormous impact that deserves proper recognition. As I've written before, we've seen a staggering rate of rap deaths in recent years. As the hip-hop media ossifies and its history is lost or misremembered, it is all the more important to ensure that the lives and careers of these dead rappers are properly documented using every means at our disposal. For this reason, in late December, I was delighted to receive an early copy of a new biography by Mac Miller, of whom I was a fan myself. Written by longtime music journalist Paul Cantor, Most Dope: The Extraordinary Life of Mac Miller claims to be the first full journalistic account of Mac's life, covering trips to Pittsburgh as well as interviews with Mac's close friends, former managers, critics, and fans to sketch a complete outline of Mac Miller the human and creative. However, when I checked the book into my Goodreads account, I noticed something odd: a string of 1-star reviews from Most Dope dated May 7, 2021, well ahead of the release date. Meyers wrote that Most Dope was unauthorized and that Cantor "was made aware early in the process of writing this book that Malcolm's family and friends felt uncomfortable about his writing the biography." She also explained that the book's January 18, 2022 release date — the day before Mac's 30th birthday — made the project seem "exploitative." The only book authorized by Mac's estate, according to Meyers, was The Book of Mac: Remembering Mac Miller by music journalist Donna-Claire Chesman. This all followed a 2019 post in which Meyers hinted at Cantor's upcoming book. “There is an author writing a Mac Miller biography that some of you have been or are being approached about. In response, Cantor told Page Six that the family "were made aware of the book from the start with the best of intentions" and "choose not to participate — which I respected." Cantor also stated that he himself did not announce the publication of Most Dope, his first book, "out of respect for the family." ... The only people who have ever spoken about my book are you." Despite the massive Mac fan backlash that followed Meyer's post on social media platforms, Cantor insisted, "My heart goes out to [Macs] Family. Such wrangling over celebrity legacy and history, whether it's family liking or unauthorized biographies or fan anger or attempts to stop journalistic inquiries or all of the above, isn't exactly unheard of. But the muddle here also points to something deeper: the existential and material connections Mac had to his fans - unique even for an Internet native - and the unique position he holds in rap history. His earliest mixtapes, like The High Life, embodied an ethos of harmless youthful amusement that staved off boredom by hanging out with your friends, celebrating your community, and kicking some incredibly cool shit. Later projects like Faces laid out Mac's thoughts of death and his most desperate desires in a chillingly honest way ("Guess I live in paradise, so I'd have to worry about/deal with these demons, feel the pressure, find the perfect style"). Many of those who had rejected Blue Slide Park's more party-oriented music were drawn to the rending honesty and plaintive vibes of Watching Movies With the Sound Off Despite the stark contrast between these two eras, there was a steadfast hope of something greater than what life intended for you ("Go fight for food, start a new life / You're too smart to be in a bunch of mediocrity") What Mac Miller highlighted most was his Confidence: He never pretended to be someone he wasn't, rather he was open about being a white guy who loved rap music very much and knew he had the talent and i.e he had the work ethic to make it in the game.* That's why artists from very different backgrounds than him, like Juicy J and Chief Keef wanted to work with him. Plus, it wasn't just that Mac could connect with both those who loved and hated him - he did it, too. They told me things I probably wouldn't share with close friends, let alone a random journalist. "He's saved my life countless times," Allison Byrd wrote to me on Twitter, "[like] when I was 15 and hearing 'Clarity': when Mac said, 'Sending my love for girls who have a few cuts on their wrists have suffered.' Cody Lee, who helps manage Mac Miller Memoir's social media accounts, told me he gets regular messages about how much Mac's music means to the lives of his fans. "More than anything, I felt like Mac Miller," music journalist Caleb Catlin wrote last year. "He was communicating feelings that I didn't quite understand, but I understood emotionally where he was coming from." For many, this wasn't simply a parasocial relationship: Mac himself personally maintained close ties with his listeners. "He interacted daily with his fans" through his social media, Byrd wrote; it was “a big part of how close we felt to him. My parents didn't have the ability to tweet their favorite artists or message them through an app." Mac Miller Memoir's Marc-André Lauzon confirmed this: "His relationship with his fan base was incredible." Mac always made time to do that makes his fans feel comfortable and welcome.” It's heartwarming to hear directly from fans about the personal connection they have had with Mac Miller and the community it has formed together. Lee told me that the Machead community "has to be one of the most inclusive, loving, and genuine fanbases in music," and it's clear that those fans' bond with Mac has extended to his entire family, most notably his mother. Some molested Mac's ex-girlfriend Ariana Grande after his death and even blamed her; There are Mac Miller memorial groups on Facebook with strict rules not to post anything about Grande. Something like this happened even before Mac's death: when old-school rapper Lord Finesse sued him in 2012 for sampling "Hip 2 the Game," Mac took to Twitter to tell his fans, "Don't be disrespectful." Such incidents are of course not isolated cases. But it's worrying when they repeat themselves like they did against Paul Cantor last year. For all its anger, Most Dope hardly reads like a money heist. Named for Mac's close-knit hometown crew, the book offers a comprehensive overview of the rapper's life, with Cantor recounting everything from the history of the Point Breeze neighborhood where Mac grew up to his involvements with adoring fans and harsh critics to the grim details of his tragic death.* In comparison, October's The Book of Mac runs through Miller's discography album by album, with Donna-Claire Chesman providing personal commentary alongside stories from the rapper's many friends and associates. It's certainly interesting reading, getting to the heart of Mac's appeal - the personal connection - but it's difficult to see as the definitive work on Mac's life. But The Book of Mac was the work officially announced by the family estate, something that every Mac fanatic I spoke to reminded me of. ("I will never buy a copy of this book," Allison Byrd said.) If what you valued about Mac's music was his honesty, then why resist a biography that attempts to present an honest, reported story about the artists to tell themselves ? Cantor spoke to many of Mac's close circles for Most Dope—Benjy Grinberg, Arthur Pitt, and others. If you look at the book's Goodreads page after it was actually published, you'll find some higher ratings alongside the 1-star bombshells. "I was skeptical, but's exactly what I was looking for in a biography of a star so beloved," wrote one reviewer last month. "I'm one of the biggest Mac Miller fans on the planet. I have three Mac tattoos," reads another review. Then I read it and I think no, this is not at all what I had in mind, its high key is amazing. A November thread on Mac Miller's subreddit about The Book of Mac, meanwhile, featured some readers who were "disappointed" with the original poster reading: "This isn't a frigging book about Mac. It's a book about a fan and their thoughts and feelings about Mac.” As a Mac fan, I just feel uncomfortable about how the worthy goal of documenting the man's life has evolved. One of the most striking stories from Cantor's book tells how Mac Miller dealt with a harsh reviewer: When Jordan Sargent gave Blue Slide Park a scathing review on Pitchfork, Mac took it to heart and decided to improve his music. He approached Sargent for insight into the process for his follow-up album, Watching Movies With the Sound Off. Sargent was reportedly charmed by Mac's friendliness and drive to improve, and later gave Watching Movies a more positive review. Most Dope can't be described as anything like this Blue Slide Park review — it's an in-depth look that also dives into the uglier side of Mac's life, from heavy drug use to his dating problems to his misdeeds as a youngster , all things Mac has been outspoken in his music and interviews. My feeling is that Mac himself wanted to engage with anyone who has written a book about his life, whether it's a personal reflection like Chesman's or a broader perspective like Cantor's. I hope other fans can start to feel the same way.

Keywords: Mac, Mac Miller, Cantor, The Book of Mac, one, first, last year, Memoir, Twitter, Allison Byrd, Donna-Claire Chesman, Meyers, Paul Cantor, Pittsburgh, three, daily, two, 30th, 2019, 2012, 26, 15, Chesman, Blue Slide Park, Watching Movies, Watching Movies With the Sound Off

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