Last week, I saw the worst concert of my 2011 — Mac Miller at the Fillmore Silver Spring. After my review ran in Saturday’s paper, my inbox filled up with pats on the back from readers who agreed with my curmudgeonly assessment of the 19-year-old Pittsburgh rapper.
Also in the pile: One of the most thoughtful rebuttals I’ve ever received. It comes from 14-year-old Nora Wahlbrink of Rockville, Md., who makes a fantastic case for Miller’s appeal and the role that pop music plays in young lives today.
We thought it deserved to be published here on Click Track in its entirety. Enjoy.
Dear Mr. Richards,
Although I respect the fact that you are not afraid to voice your opinion, I want to weigh in on the Mac Miller concert. I was there; I’m a huge fan. You make some valid points in your article, but you also make some completely ridiculous ones.
First off, he doesn’t only “rap about how much he likes bagels with cream cheese.” I want to know why you failed to mention when he rapped the song “Poppy” about his grandfather dying and how he was tearing up on stage. In your piece, you make it seem like he only raps about stupid stuff and never says anything with deeper meaning. The whole “siren rap song,” also called “Loitering” is about the place he used to go as a kid, “blue slide park,” in his home town of Pittsburgh. It is not his “life goal” to stop chilling on the playground. He says he will “never be to old to be chilling at the playground” simply to express the feeling of the majority of youth in the world: He doesn’t want to grow up.
And along with his lyrics about “being bored, skipping class, craving fun, beer and weed,” he also has a lot of lyrics regarding life that “show us how life can be so much bigger,” as you seem to think music is all about. Just to name a few, in his song “Senior Skip Day,” the same song about the cream cheese and bagel, he says, “Enjoy the best things in your life, cause you ain’t gonna get to live it twice.”
In his song “Under The Weather,” also sung at the concert, he says, “You can have the world in the palm of your hand, but it don’t mean a thing till you change it.” In “Don't Mind If I Do,” which he also sang, he says, “Celebrate that were seeing another day, good life.” And as I mentioned before, the song “Poppy” is all about his late grandfather.
But along with all that, I think it is important to remember that he raps for the youth. Your life as a 32-year-old may not reflect the activities Mac Miller talks about in his songs, but mine does, as well as teenagers around the world. Sometimes, it’s nice to have something I can relate to on a regular basis. I don’t always want music to be teaching me something and have some intense deeper meaning. I like hearing Mac Miller's songs and being able to be, like, “Yeah, I know what that's like. I deal with that daily.”
And as for liking it when I'm older, you’re probably right in saying that I won’t listen to it very often and enjoy it as much as I do now, but I do think that when I’M 32 and I hear a Mac Miller song, I’ll look back on my life as a teenager with a smile and a laugh. And I also think that when I’m 32, teenagers will still be listening to Mac Miller’s old songs and relating to them just like I am right now.
I completely agree with you when you say that you think we should seek out different types of music. I have all sorts of music genres on my iPod, but Mac Miller is my favorite, because in my opinion, he can do it all. He can rap, sing and play guitar about regular things that happen every day, and also about life-changing moments and events. He stays true to his music and true to his feelings, and I think that’s the most important thing for any artist.
As upsetting as older people may find this, he IS a leader of our generation. He says what he’s thinking, much like you do, and he reveals the life of an average teenager through music the we like to hear. He represents the hope of following your dreams and doing something you love, and the idea that no matter what happens in your life, everything will be okay. He reminds us to keep our “thumbs up” and our heads high, and he gives us pride in being kids. He makes teenagers feel like we're part of a unified movement that kids all over the world live life by: Stay happy and enjoy life as much as you can while you're young. He is a positive symbol in a world full of negative, cynical people.
So to conclude this, I would like so say that yes, he may rap about bagels and cream cheese, and yes, he raps a lot about smoking and drinking, but if that’s what kids do nowadays, what’s so wrong with someone speaking the truth? And what’s so wrong with us kids having a positive leader to help us keep faith in the midst of a world full of negative adults trying to rid us of our unrealistic dreams?
- Nora Wahlbrink, Rockville, MD