Whose story are we going to hear when a star dies?
Artist Mac Miller was an undeniably talented musician and performer; Seriously, try watching Miller’s appearance on NPR’s Tiny Desk and walk away impressed. Tragically, Miller also failed to conquer the demons that plagued him and he died of an accidental overdose of cocaine, fentanyl and alcohol at age 26 in 2018.
Fans celebrated Miller’s posthumous 30th birthday on January 19. The date also fell the day after the release of Paul Cantor’s Most Dope: The Extraordinary Life of Mac Miller. It would be hard to tell from the title, but the Abrams Press biography was met with virulence by the Miller family. The family issued a lengthy statement in May 2021 criticizing Cantor’s accounting and expressing support for The Book of Mac: Remembering Mac Miller, published in October, written by Donna-Claire Chesman.
Which story tells the truth? And what story are readers supposed to believe? It really depends on your perspective and how you want to remember a human being.
Following the heartbreaking passing of Mac Miller, Chesman spent the next few months chronicling the hip-hop artist’s work through a personal lens, describing Miller through the eyes of his fans, friends and fellow musicians. This portrait leans towards a personal essay, showing what the man meant through his unique relationship with his sound and his words.
Cantor’s biography is no less precise but much more complex. The respected music journalist, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Rolling Stone and more, spent several years researching Miller’s life, from his roots in Pittsburgh to his time in Los Angeles and New York City. . He can see why Miller’s family may not have approved from Amazon’s book description alone.
“But despite his undeniable success, Miller was plagued by struggles with substance abuse and depression, both of which fueled his raw, genre-defying music but ultimately led to his demise.”
Mac Miller (right) during an interview on ‘The Come Up Show’, based in Toronto. Andrew Stephenson/Flickr Related Guides
Although the family claimed that Cantor “chose to proceed against our courteous insistence that he does not harm Malcolm’s legacy by writing a book without legitimate primary sources,” Amazon’s description cites “detailed reporting and interviews with dozens of Miller confidants.” ”.
Cantor, for his part, offered his understanding to the Miller family. In a statement on Page Six, Cantor said: “My heart goes out to his family. Nothing you can say here can heal the pain of losing your child. I carried that with me in every sentence I wrote.”
This is not the first time that the late rapper’s family has opposed a project. The Fader reported that director CJ Wallis stopped producing the “definitive” Mac Miller documentary in 2019 at the insistence of the Miller family and manager Christian Clancy. And this is definitely not the only contested musician biography. John Lennon, Lou Reed, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and Jimi Hendrix are just some of the posthumous stories that will be scorned.
The beauty of both books is that each contains truthful and verified statements that provide equally valid and popular divergent viewpoints. The Book of Mac sits at number seven on Amazon’s “Best Sellers in Rap & Hip-Hop Musician Biographies” and Most Dope has settled at number 11, affirming the continuing interest and impact of Miller’s work on a lifetime. that ended too soon.
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