What Music Genre Did Mac Miller Perform?

AUTHOR: Natalia Jones

It’s hard to think of a more beloved rap icon than Mac Miller, and his early departure in 2018 left fans devastated worldwide.

We all miss Mac’s carefree persona and stage charisma, but his music lives on.

His style was fun and laid back, with the occasional serious streak that made his music super relatable to fans of all backgrounds. 

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Hip Hop can be a broad genre, so how exactly do we categorize Miller’s music?

Early Mixtapes

Back when Mac was a young rising star on the Pittsburgh music scene, his tracks evoked the bliss of senior-year youth and the nervous excitement of oncoming adulthood.

The 2010 album K.I.D.S was Mac’s first breakthrough full-length mixtape and featured high-profile producers like Lord Finesse. 

With a sold-out tour and massive new fanbase, Mac’s debut was an instant classic of Party Rap or Frat Rap with some clear influences from Old-School Hip Hop.

“Kool-Aid and Frozen Pizza” is one song title that pretty much summarizes Mac’s original style.

When his first studio album Blue Slide Park dropped in 2011, the rapper received some harsh criticism from the press, who said Mac still had room to grow and find his sound.

Mainstream Success

It wasn’t until the 2013 release of Watching Movies with the Sound Off did his sound begin to shift in a new direction. With tons of hot-shot collabs and a newfound production role in the studio, Mac started to experiment beyond the 90’s boom-bap style he came from.

This album features songs with more Psychedelic Hip Hop and West-Coast vibe, and the lyrical themes are definitely more introspective and emotional.

The next part of Miller’s career is somewhat overlooked, but definitely worth touching on for this topic: Delusional Thomas.

Mac took on this wacked out persona during a time of heavy experimentation, and the music showcases some truly trippy Horrorcore influences. This is what happens when you hang out with the Odd Future crew in Los Angeles for too long!

Things got back to normal for the most part on the 2015 album GO:OD AM, which incorporated a lot of soul and funk elements to his repertoire. Songs like “100 Grandkids” feature full vocal arrangements and instrumentation right out of the 1970s.

Other tracks on that album have more of a melancholy, minimal feel, while there are some certified bangers scattered throughout. It showcases how many unique styles Mac can juggle on a single record. 

Final Records

The Divine Feminine was Miller’s 2016 studio-album effort and featured super-smooth production alongside plenty of star power. The song “Dang!” showed Mac and Anderson Paak teaming up on an R&B style track, both singing and rapping throughout. 

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Could it be that Mac was inspired by his relationship with Ariana Grande to bring the heat on this album? It featured many other feel-good hits.

Things got a bit more somber on 2018’s Swimming when Mac explored some darker material and ventured into emo-rap territory. Songs like “Small Worlds” and “Self-Care” revealed the inner turmoil of Miller’s life in the spotlight.

Many people tend to ask questions like how did Mac Miller die, but we should celebrate the music that he made. Even his posthumous studio album Circles was met with a ton of acclaim and will remain widespread hip-hop favorite for millions of fans.

As you can see, it’s almost impossible to put Mac’s work into a single genre. The rap mastermind was able to cleanly cross over between so many musical styles on a single album, and make everything seem cohesive.

As always, rest in peace to Mac. His legacy will live forever.