Shouldn’t it go without saying? Mac Miller was more than Ariana Grande’s ex-boyfriend.

And yet, as a friend shot me a TMZ post that I briefly refused to believe, I turned to Google. Confirming my fears that Miller had, indeed, passed away, I was confronted with another ugly sight.

Site after site reported, in essence, “Ex-boyfriend of Ariana Grande dies.” I get it y’all, Grande gets more clicks. My folks' reaction to Miller’s name? A big question mark. Their reaction to Grande’s? Comments circling anything but her music, of which they knew none. They were certainly plugged into the gossip surrounding her, however.

Tapping into infantile celebrity obsession for an obituary? Honestly, we can do better.

Mac Miller was an endlessly complicated artist that folk were all too eager to box away. When Blue Slide Park arrived, Pitchfork, most sternly, slapped him with a vastly overstated 1.0, slamming the young artist as a dull frat party starter. Comparisons to his fellow Pittsburghian Wiz Khalifa were present, but remarkably little was said of the actual music.

This isn’t to throw Pitchfork under the bus, the site has changed a lot in recent years, and I’m sure they regret the harshness of the review, shown by their constant critical reappraisal of Miller with each LP since.

I was no better. Taking Mac Miller in, what did I see? White, handsome, tattooed. It was all too easy to dismiss him as a stereotype. It wasn’t until Watching Movies with the Sound Off that I gave Miller a fair shake, impressed by its ambition and scope. Yet, even then, many listeners were happy to credit others, baselessly claiming that its bevy of impressive guests (from Earl Sweatshirt to Ab-Soul) had helped Miller in the writing department.

Where did this desire to dismiss even come from? As celebrity tributes pour in, in the wake of his passing, it’s been made clearer than ever that Miller was a giver. Gratitude seeping in from every corner of hip hop, we’ve seen artists so vastly disparate as Chance the Rapper and Post Malone each declare that no one helped (or inspired) their careers like Mac.

What about the music itself? Swimming showed, more than ever, a truly inspired, artful artist, as Miller deftly navigated depression and isolation—all without making it a pity party. If anything, the album was truly kind, bouncing masterfully between ego and sadness.

For an artist so many were keen to peg down, Miller was an inspiration for countless fans, in particular, those who suffer from addiction. Especially through the lens of his death, GO:OD AM perhaps in particular stands as a harrowing, even brilliant, exploration of his struggles.

What made Miller special for so many is simple: rather than wallow in the darkness of addiction, such as on, say, Eminem’s Relapse, Miller was always pushing for the brightness in everything. He may not always have found it, but you can damn well believe he was looking.

Key moments now feel shockingly self-aware - and crushingly sad. Take this pained salvo from ‘Perfect Circle / God Speed’:

"Cause I’m speedin' with a blindfold on and won’t be long
‘til they watching me crash
And they don’t wanna see that
They don’t want me to OD and have to talk to my mother
Telling her they could have done more to help me
And she’ll be crying saying that she’ll do anything to have me back"

Needless to say, this is overpowering to read, and even harder to hear, now. This is the artist that was always standing before us. It’s sad it took his passing for so many to see the value in Miller’s words. Don’t undermine his memory by reducing him to a celebrity boyfriend. Worse still, do not lay his death at the step of a surely grieving ex-lover and friend.

Miller’s demons, however starkly tragic, were his own. The art he left behind remains ready to do battle with those same demons, even with him gone. Therein lies his life’s value. Not whatever drama, real or imagined, we seem so damn fascinated by. Send thoughts to his loved ones, hug a fellow fan, but for pity’s sake, leave the woman he loved out of it.

Now at least - and at last - allow him to be the artist he always was.