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How Mac Miller’s passing helps remember the blog era of hip-hop

On September 7th, 2018 the unexpected happened.

Tweets, Instagram posts, trending hashtags and eventually official reports, circulated the interwebs all baring bad news, all hailing R.I.P. and in loving memory.

Malcolm James McCormick, known professionally as Mac Miller, was announced dead.

 

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RIP to another young legend @macmiller 💔😢 #412 #pittsburgh

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The internet is no stranger to celebrity deaths. Just this year we’ve lost rapper Xxxtentacion and queen of soul Aretha Franklin — both highly regarded by their fanbases and both sorely missed — but somehow Mac’s passing struck a much different chord in a variety of people.

Unlike Aretha who was 76 and X who was 20 and still very much a newcomer in the music industry, Mac Miller represented an age group that grew up with the internet. The majority of his fans aren’t retired or under the legal age to drink, they’re the young adults with 9-5’s and recent grads figuring out life.

With almost a decade of work in the business, yet only 26 at his untimely passing, for millennials, it felt like one of their own was lost; and in a lot of ways, it was. He was the musician next door; the rapper that everyone liked; the kid who actually matured with time.

And now he’s gone.

Among the farewells, goodbyes, and vigils, one silver lining from Miller’s death has been the blog era nostalgia that’s resulted from it.

You see, when Mac Miller started taking rap seriously back in 2007, what he didn’t know was that he was embarking on a period in music where hip-hop was still getting acclimated with the digital takeover.

Between 2005-2010, writers, hip-hop heads, and aspiring talent all came together to monetize the new frontier of the digital world.

After the introduction of MP3’s, traditional consumption of music became nearly impossible and although Napster would tumble, regulation was a task too big. People were already used to getting their music for free and as a result, everyone from A&Rs and journalists to DJs and legacy publications took a hit.

https://twitter.com/MaloneJustin/status/1038207207018569728

Blogs, and I mean a ton of ’em, started popping up out of nowhere to post the hottest mixtapes, singles, and remixes.

We’re talking DatPiff,¬†2Dope,¬†Nahright,¬†OnSmash,¬†DJBooth,¬†The Smoking Section, and¬†Buck Marley XXX,¬†Kevin Nottingham, Sermon’s Domain, Potholes In My Blog, TSS, and WatchLOUD,¬†and countless others for a moment in time had hip-hop in a chokehold, cultivating not only Mac but a lot of your favs.

https://twitter.com/DavidDTSS/status/1038576759044812800

Thanks to Limewire, Mediafire, Megaupload, and Hulkshare, masses listened to and determined what was hot or not. And for upcoming artist, instead of waiting for the radio, Myspace and hip-hop blogs provided a platform to bypass the gatekeepers and upload music directly outside of the major label system.

Artist from Charles Halmiton to The Cool Kids and Kid Cudi were given chances labels maybe may not have taken previously and it was because of high school kids who would unearth, discover and promote them on the blogs.

This was the era of Zshare pop-up ads and DatPiff download limits, mixtape premiers, and blogs hostings. It was a special time because it felt like the music belonged to the people, and Mac Miller was an integral part of that.

Eventually, illegal downloads would stop.

In the late 2000’s, copyright laws started getting enforced and mp3 links were put to an end. The RIAA made it their job to halt illegal mp3s and rap blogs were especially affected.

Then on Thanksgiving day in 2010, a precedent was set that would be the turning point of the blog era as we knew it: the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized the OnSmash.com domain.

The backpack-rap scene fueled by rap nerds and hip-hop purist no longer existed but, almost acting as¬†it’s replacement, streaming stepped into its place.

With the arrival of social media, SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Music, and others, in the blink of an eye, not only were artist bypassing the gatekeepers and giving their art directly to fans but, for the first time, they were profiting off of it, too.

Although the blog era had ended, its impact on the culture and the state of hip-hop had already been permanently stamped.¬†Mac Miller’s passing made the evident.

There aren’t words that will ever be able to encapsulate Mac Miller and what his legacy means. From his first tape to his last performance, the memories and smiles he’s left have more value than any Grammy or dollar amount could ever attest.

But me personally? I’ll always thank him for his role in the blog era.