Mac Miller’s “What’s the Use” in his album Swimming conveys the artist’s relationship with drugs and alcohol. The rapper died in September of 2018 of a drug overdose at the age of 26; Miller’s song portrays an internal struggle between his mind and what society tells him about the use of drugs. The song creates an experience going inside the mind of someone who is struggling from addiction to drugs.
The song starts with its chorus, being representative of Miller’s want for substances after attempting to stop; Miller’s first lines in his chorus,
You can love it, you can leave it
portrays his own opinion on drugs. Miller believes that you can either love, or leave it, and no in between; this creates a conflict within the addicts head. However, from an outsiders point of view, Miller raps:
They say you’re nothing without it
From the point of view of someone who is not caught in the cycle of addiction, it looks like a personality trait; as if that’s all Miller has to him: his addiction to drugs and alcohol. Later in the chorus, Miller raps:
I just want another minute with it, f–k a little
You can take this two ways in my opinion; 1/ He just wants to get back into it and it doesn’t matter if he just dapples in the act of consuming drugs or 2/ he wants another minute under the influence and thinks, “f–k a little” (bit I want a lot). Both of those ways show the struggle of attempting to halt an addiction to drugs. The push and pull of wanting to consume more and the trying to stop.
In his first verse, Miller says:
I’m so a-bove and beyond/You take drugs to make it up
This line references the use of psychedelics– especially the term “above and beyond”. When Miller says, “You take drugs to make it up”, he means to say that one would need to take hallucinogenics to get to his level. He later says,
Whole lotta “yes I am”/All the way with no exit plan
According to Genius, the “yes I am” is in relation to him saying “yes I am” up for consuming more. The “no exit plan” refers to his way out of addiction however, with no exit plan, he has no way out of it. The continuous metaphors of flight emphasize the effects of drugs that give the user a “high”. I know I didn’t talk a lot about the sound of the song but the actual bass throughout the song help create this melancholy feel. In addition to the actual music of the song, it also creates a full experience that the listen delves into regarding the tough cycle of addiction.