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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Former spring concert performer dies


Students mourn rapper Mac Miller

St. Joe’s students showed up to Michael J. Hagan Arena in droves on the night of the 2017 Spring Concert. They waited outside for hours in the late April heat and as the doors opened, crowds funnelled into the arena and gathered around the concert stage. A low buzz of excitement and chatter began, continuing through the opening act, until the headliner made his entrance.

Suddenly, the lights dimmed. The stage lit up, the buzz grew to a massive roar and rapper Mac Miller took the stage, delivering an electric performance of his major hits.

Miller, a noted presence in underground rap who was best known for his songwriting and producing work, died on Sept. 7 at age 26.

Born Malcolm McCormick in Pittsburgh, Pa., Miller has been near and dear in the hearts of young people, including many St. Joe’s students since his performance at the 2017 Spring Concert.

Sabrina Schielein ’18, who served as co-chair for the Spring Concert Committee that year, said having Miller perform was a big turning point for the program.

“I had never seen such a positive response from students after revealing the artist,” Schielein said. “I think our generation really grew up with Mac’s music.”

The energy from the students during Miller’s performance was among the best responses to a Spring Concert event that Schielein had seen in her four years on the executive board. Ticket sales doubled from the year before, allowing the committee to restore the events popularity.

“The year before my co-chair term, ticket sales at SJU had been the lowest they had seen in over 10 years,” Schielein said. “We were under pressure from the school with a chance to lose the show completely if students weren’t showing interest.”

Tim Krupski ’19, a fan of Miller, said he regretted not being able to see him perform on Hawk Hill.

“I didn’t know that would be one of the last chances I had to see him perform,” Krupski said. “That’s what I think hits home most for me about his death: you never know what people are actually going through until something tragic like this happens.”

While Miller’s sudden death is unsettling for his audience, the legacy of his rap career will live on.

Pat Dolan ’19 said that he listened to Miller when he was younger and although he has passed away, will always listen to his music.

“I remember sitting in my room with my friends watching his music videos on YouTube when I was in eighth grade,” Dolan said. “I grew up listening to Mac. It feels like a piece of my adolescence died when he died.”

Dolan said what he admires most about Miller’s music is how he always wrote personal, relatable lyrics in songs like “Senior Skip Day” and “What’s the Use,” the latter being a track off his last album, the critically acclaimed “Swimming.” “He rapped about everything from skipping class in high school to his struggles with mental illness and addiction,” Dolan said. “His music is relatable to everyone.”

Schielein said she has never seen so many reactions from her generation over a celebrity’s death. She added that she will continue to admire Miller for his strength as a person, as well as his music career.

“Mac left a good example that being vulnerable about how you’re feeling doesn’t make you weak,” Schielein said. “It takes someone strong to open up and verbalize what they are going through.”

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