The premature, multifaceted tragedy of Miller’s death by apparent overdose last week thrust a myriad of vital conversations to the fore, including candid reflection on addiction and depression. But his loss also continues to resonate deeply because, at just 26 years old, Miller wasn’t in his prime when he died. Rather, it was never clear just how much more he had to offer until he was gone. Miller’s potential wasn’t a question — it was a promise.
Miller’s concentrated progression over his decade-long career — spanning five studio albums, a dozen mixtapes, and a handful of EPs, guest spots, and live albums — tracked the kind of evolution some artists spend their entire careers chasing. From his teenage beginnings up to his untimely passing, Miller grew into a multi-talented musician. The guy who made his name in frat rap and feuded with the now-president of the United States over a party track called “Donald Trump” is the same guy who became a widely beloved rapper, singer, and producer with a deep musical bench.
Miller was a dedicated student of his craft. He dabbled in different styles of rap, from tongue-twisting East Coast (“Watching Movies,” “Jump”) to drawling Southern (“Brand Name,” Cinderella”). He experimented with delivery, letting his bars bleed into cracked, emotionally-driven singing (“ROS,” “Self Care”). He welcomed artists from across the pop, hip-hop, and R&B spectrum to collaborate on his records (“My Favorite Part,” “Red Dot Music”). He became increasingly complex with his production, layering funk, jazz, and soul elements into his sound (“Dang!,” “Objects In The Mirror,” “Weekend”). And he was a candid and seemingly boundless lyricist, writing about everything from money and fame, to love and sex, to addiction and loss with a clever, self-aware sensibility.
We’ve traced Miller’s career in a time capsule playlist featuring some of his most essential works, from his early mixtape and Soundcloud days to becoming an artist with the world at his fingertips.