Since Mac Miller’s death in September 2018 at age 26, little has emerged in terms of the rapper’s posthumous music. That’s changing. Earlier this month, the Free Nationals released a song that they recorded with Miller. And today, 88-Keys released a heartfelt track he recorded with Miller, which has the late rapper meditating on the difficulties of staying sober.
It’s the first song in eight years released by 88-Keys, the Grammy-winning producer whose last album was 2008’s The Death of Adam, produced with Kanye West. The song, which features a powerful bridge by Sia, leaked in late May under the title “Benji the Dog,” according to Genius. 88-Keys told DJ Booth that the track was recorded in early 2015, and came out of a 90-minute conversation he had with Miller. “[Mac] was pretty fascinated by little tidbits and stories, behind-the-scenes stuff I was telling him about College Dropout, so he was fanning out. That’s when I realized how much of a Kanye fan he was… The very first beat I pulled up was a beat that I had called ‘Benji The Dog,’ and I played it for him, and he just kinda lost it. He just went crazy. He started writing. Once he started recording, it was ‘Oh, he definitely felt the conversation that we just had.’” Miller raps about the guilt he feels for indulging in excesses – lyrics that feel especially poignant given the circumstances of his death of an accidental overdose.
In a statement, 88-Keys called “That’s Life” a song that “sums up the sentiments of the music I’ve been working on over the past few years. We all have to forge through the good, the bad and the ugly. Mac came up with the concept for the song stemming from a conversation we had in the studio about relationships as we shared with each other what made the ones we were in at the time special. I played the song for Sia and she personally identified with the sentiments of the song and felt strongly about contributing her own thoughts on the subject matter. At the end of it all, my dear friend Mac and my new found friend Sia helped me make a song to touch the world and help many deal with adversities we’re faced with, but ‘That’s Life.'”
In the years since his 2008 solo album, The Death of Adam, 88-Keys has worked with an array of artists on various projects including Sia, Theophilus London and John Legend. He also helped produce Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” which won the Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
As for Sia, the singer most recently teamed with Labrinth and Diplo to release their self-titled debut as LSD. Miller’s final studio album, Swimming, arrived last August just one month before his death.