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Gone But Never Forgotten: The Musical Legacies That Live On

Among the many catastrophic events that have occurred within the last year such as the pandemic, wildfires, or even the insurrection at our nation’s Capitol, it can be hard to find some serenity in the midst of it all. Thanks to the wonderful world of music, various artists who we all know and love have […]

Among the many catastrophic events that have occurred within the last year such as the pandemic, wildfires, or even the insurrection at our nation’s Capitol, it can be hard to find some serenity in the midst of it all. Thanks to the wonderful world of music, various artists who we all know and love have been able to create a safe space for our ears, as well as our minds, where we’re able to find a temporary sweet escape.

For many, legitimate connections are formed through certain production or lyrics, and we feel like we personally know this musician through their discography. When we grow such strong emotional bonds to these artists, it’s especially hard when the inevitable takes away the life of a musician, and we’re only left with what they’ve put out into the world for us to listen to and resonate with.

Just within the past few years, artists such as MF DOOM, Mac Miller, Lil Peep, Her’s, Juice Wrld, and XXXTentacion have passed. Despite their unfortunate departures, many students around campus ensure that these artists are never dead in spirit.

The passing of rapper Mac Miller in September of 2017 hit hard for Jake Harris (‘21), as listening to Miller’s music was something he and his brother were able to bond over growing up.

”Mac has such a variety of music, from rap to calmer songs, so that draws a lot of attention from me. I also like him because his music calms me down in a way,” the senior says. “If I’m ever stressed about school or something, I usually will turn on his music and it will make me relaxed and calm.”

Since the artist’s death, Jake has found a much greater appreciation for Mac’s music. He keeps the late rapper alive in spirit by listening to him everyday in an attempt to resonate with him further.

A Mac Miller poster in Jake’s room.

“I definitely listen to Mac a lot more now than I did before [his death],” Jake says. “He has music for basically everything. His music brings back a lot of memories for me which is a big reason why I listen to him.”

When you hear about a celebrity dying, it’s always unexpected and sends a wave of disbelief across the industry and fans alike. Greg Stone (‘21) was struck with a rude awakening upon hearing the news of rapper Juice Wrld’s passing in December 2019.

“I woke up to a text from a friend saying Juice Wrld had died and at first I didn’t believe it. I went straight to social media and sure enough there was a post confirming he was dead,” he says. “It was extremely shocking and upsetting to hear that he had died — it almost didn’t even seem real.”

Greg had been a long standing fan of the rapper and found genuine comfort through the music Juice Wrld put out. He remembers getting into the artist right as he started to gain a bigger following.

“When I heard his first song that blew up it was an instant connection. I loved his flow and his beats, so I became a fan off of the first song that I heard.”

Greg’s interest in Juice Wrld grew to be much more meaningful as he dug deeper into the rapper’s discography. Greg was able to find a personal connection to the music he had to offer — call that love at first hear.

“Many of his lyrics are relatable to many people, especially teenagers in this era, which I feel connected to. More than that, I really just enjoy his style, it has always piqued my interest.”

Since the rough year of Juice Wrld’s death, Greg still finds the time to listen to and enjoy the rapper’s music — it’s almost as if he’s never been gone. Greg’s emotional connection to Juice Wrld’s is something that is unaffected by the artist’s unfortunate passing, no matter how much time goes by.

One of the most recent deaths in rap has been the sudden tragic passing of MF DOOM. Known as “your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper,” news of DOOM’s death spread like wildfire across social media on New Year’s Eve through an Instagram post from his wife announcing his passing on Halloween 2020.

Karsten Thomas (‘22) was a dedicated “Doomer” and was devastated at the news of the rapper’s passing.

“It was really sad knowing an artist you enjoy is no longer alive and able to make music,” he says. “It makes you appreciate the music they have more knowing that it’s a piece of them that they left behind.”

Karsten recalls listening to him while he was still able to release music and becoming excited when he knew an album or song of his was soon to drop, and considers the fact that he was able to experience that excitement towards the artist’s releases to be a privilege.

“I think what pulls me in about MF’s music is the really good beat all his songs have and how creative and great his flow is. His music reminds me of 90’s hip-hop, which I enjoy. He was able to use an old sounding beat and make the track still feel super new and exciting with his lyrics.”

Today, Karsten feels more compelled to listen to MF DOOM’s music now than he did before as he recognizes that he won’t be able to experience anymore new releases.

“I feel more inclined to cherish his work. I think the people that keep MF DOOM alive are his fans and the people who continue to play his music and appreciate him even though he’s not around anymore.”

Even though students may not have known these artists personally, the bonds that they were able to create simply through lyricism and production are unbreakable, and the mourning of your favorite musician is valid. Despite how long that window of grief may last due to the death of an artist, their work is timeless. Today, we can be thankful to know that music can never die.

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