The Albums That Changed Mac Miller's Life

The Albums That Changed Mac Miller's Life
 Credit: Rachael Wright

Credit: Rachael Wright

In the current issue of Q, Mac Miller talks about the records that shaped him, recounting how hearing Outkast's Aquemini aged 12 changed how he thought about music and explaining why Radiohead's In Rainbows made him reconsider how his own records should sound. After the rapper's tragic death last week, here is Miller's Albums That Changed My Life published online in full.

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Outkast
Aquemini (1998, LaFace)

“That’s the bar for me, it’s my guiding light. I heard it when I was super-young, maybe 10 or 12. My brother had it and the cover was just so unbelievable that I grabbed it. I remember locking myself in my grandma’s guest room and listening to it on repeat all day. Being that young, and having an idea of what I thought music should be, then hearing Aquemini completely shifted things. It’s a whole, complete album, not just a collection of songs. Hold On, Be Strong is such an incredible opening track. It makes me feel like I’m in water, which is my favourite feeling."

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Bob Dylan
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963, Columbia)

“My dad was a big Bob Dylan fan – he’d come into me and my brothers’ room with a guitar and play his songs. I’ve loved this album ever since I was young. When I was a kid, I did a lot of sitting in my room and listening to music, dealing with the world and my perspective of it. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall and especially Girl From The North Country – I was obsessed with that song. It all helped me see that you didn’t need a whole lot of things to make an impact. Sometimes you just need a guy and a guitar speaking his own truths.”

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Miles Davis
Bitches Brew (1970, Columbia)

“I knew about Kind Of Blue when I was younger, because I used to play Blue In Green on the piano all the time. But I never dived into Bitches Brew until I was living at The Sanctuary, which is a crib I had. You put it on and it feels like you’re in the room with everyone – it sounds like they’re sitting right next to you. There’s a free movement to it, a lack of rules, which is so beautiful. You sometimes get in a place where you start thinking too much what song you’re making, and then you listen to this and think, ‘OK, I can go wherever I want to go.’”

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Erykah Badu
Baduizm (1997, KedAr/UNIVERSAL)

“I don’t like the whole business of going, ‘This era was best’, cos there’s amazing music in every single decade. But there’s certain records that definitely shaped me in my younger years, and this is one. Some of my favourite music is music that can quiet my mind. That’s a tough thing to do. But the first time I heard this, I was immediately at peace. I’ve used it to go to sleep so many times – this shit tucks you in. And by the way, if an album can make me sleep, that’s top tier for me. Her voice is like nothing else – it doesn’t sound human. It sounds like elevated understanding.”

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John Lennon
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970, Apple)

“I only listened to the whole album for the first time last year and it fucked me up. Just the rawness of it, the pure emotion of songs like Mother and Isolation. It’s another album that shows you don’t need a lot. He’s not the greatest piano player in the world, but he hits you in a way that you don’t expect. That’s inspiring. I know there are people that are way, way better at the piano than me, but there’s something special about what you do, yourself, with your own hands. It’s one of those albums you want to listen to from front to back, no interruptions.”

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Big L
Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous (1995, Columbia)

“He was a rapper from New York [who died in 1999, aged 24], and when I was 15, that’s who I wanted to sound like. I was matching his cadences, trying to be like him – a super-grimy underground rapper. I thought I was so cool, cos I was up on some shit that no one else my age was up on. Put It On was the big hit and Jay-Z was on Da Graveyard, but Let ’Em Have It L used to be my ringtone. Dude, I was obsessed. I actually started the very first Big L Facebook fan page. I think it’s still up and running today. I had to give up my administrator’s rights, though.”

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Al Green
I’m Still In Love With You (1972, HI)

“Al Green has the greatest voice ever, no question. If I could sound like anyone else on the planet, it would be him. But the textures on this record have such an identity, too – as soon as you hear the textures of the drums and the organ and the guitar, you know it’s an Al Green record immediately. You can touch it, it’s beautiful. I’m Glad You’re Mine is my favourite song on the record – the melody and the strings are unreal. It makes you feel like the world is a beautiful place. Every time I put it on, I’m happier. You need a record like that to feel better about the world.”

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Radiohead
In Rainbows (2007, self-released/XL)

“It’s a joint that my friends told me to listen to, and it completely changed my whole view of how I wanted things to sound. The guitar sounds on Weird Fishes and Reckoner are so watery, in a great way. It sounds like a band met up, pressed ‘record’ and just played the whole thing in one take. I’ve never met them, but my mom has. We were both playing at the Bonnaroo festival. She saw Thom Yorke in the elevator. He must have liked her, cos he introduced her to the rest of Radiohead. She had no idea who they were: ‘Are you guys playing Bonnaroo? So is my son.’”