Mac Miller biographer says narrative around Ariana Grande relationship ‘wasn’t 100 percent accurate’

Biographer Paul Cantor suggests media and the public projected what they assumed Miller felt after Grande began dating ‘SNL’ star Pete Davidson

Roisin O'Connor
Wednesday 19 January 2022 08:53
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Ariana Grande cries as she performs in Mac Miller's hometown
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The writer behind a new book on Mac Miller has offered his take on the late rapper’s relationship with pop singer Ariana Grande.

Paul Cantor’s book, Most Dope: The Extraordinary Life of Mac Miller, was released today (18 January), a day before Miller would have turned 30.

Cantor, an early fan of Miller’s music, spoke to a number of his friends for the project, as well as drawing on his own encounters with Miller before the artist’s death, aged 26, from an accidental overdose in 2018.

The book reportedly avoids any salacious details regarding Miller’s relationship with Grande, but does state that she was “a rock” for Miller through his struggles with substance abuse.

Miller checked into rehab for around three weeks in 2016, with Grande making several visits to see him during his treatment.

Grande apparently grew increasingly concerned for Miller’s safety during their relationship, often calling his friends to learn of his whereabouts when he disappeared.

The book also covers how Miller supported Grande after the Manchester Arena bombing at her concert in 2017, performing their duet “The Way” with her at a benefit gig.

The couple split in early 2018, sparking a media frenzy, particularly after Grande began dating Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson. Grande was later accused by fans of pushing Miller over the edge, prompting her to say that their relationship had grown “toxic” despite her attempts to support him.

Cantor suggested the media and the public projected how they assumed Miller felt about Grande and Davidson, without knowing the facts.

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“I think in the moment that they were together, there was definitely a real thing,” he told the Daily Beast. “You can see by the actions explored in the book that it was real. That’s why I don't think, to his credit, he never said anything at all about it, other than it was a relationship that was good while it lasted. He wanted to give it the dignity that it deserves.”

He continued: “There was a narrative that was being put out there about his relationship that maybe wasn’t 100 percent accurate. He was becoming a little bit of a tabloid version of himself, and this is not what this guy was about. He’s a really deep human, and put a lot of his life into his work. What's that line, ‘It’s easy to write, you just open up a vein and bleed?’ I mean, he was bleeding, it’s all over his music.”

Grande released a lengthy and moving tribute to Miller following his death in 2018, calling him her “dearest friend”.

Most Dope has caused some controversy due to pushback from Miller’s family, who refused to be interviewed for it and went so far as to request that his fans avoid it.

“This book is not authorised or endorsed by Malcolm’s family and has been written by a writer with whom Malcolm did not have a relationship,” a statement issued last year said.

“Furthermore, the writer had no meaningful access to those that were closest to Malcolm – friends, family, collaborators etc. In fact, the writer of this book was made aware at the outset of the process of writing this book that the family and friends of Malcolm were uncomfortable with him authoring this biography, yet he chose to proceed against our polite insistence that he not do disservice to Malcolm’s legacy through writing a book without legitimate primary sources.”

Cantor said he had actually received “a lot of support” over the book, “contrary to what was put out there”.

“I had a lot of support from people around [Miller],” he said. “Their support, actually, is one of the reasons why I even pursued it. Had they not been supportive from day one, I probably wouldn't have done it. But they were, and that motivated me.”

Miller’s posthumous album, Circles, was released in 2020 to critical praise.

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In the US, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP.

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