Mac Miller – “What’s the Use?” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Mac Miller’s “What’s the Use?” explores personal dilemmas, focusing on addiction, the struggles of fame, and the existential questions one grapples with. The song oscillates between the need to break free from the shackles of addiction and the temptation to engage with it: “I just want another minute with it, fuck a little, what’s the use?” With lines like “Never superficial, you gon’ know it when it hit you,” the song plunges deep into the authenticity of emotions and situations, urging listeners to acknowledge the real impact of their choices.

Hungry for an intellectual snack? Let’s dive into the lyrics of Mac Miller’s “What’s the Use?” and unearth the complex emotions behind his words.

“What’s the Use?” Lyrics Meaning

The song starts with the lines, “You can love it, you can leave it. They say you’re nothing without it.” This opening serves as a mirror to society’s dual perspectives on addiction. On one hand, there’s the viewpoint that addiction is damaging. On the other, there’s a social construct suggesting that these substances make life ‘interesting’ or ‘complete’ in some twisted way.

“Don’t let them keep you down, What if I don’t need it?” Miller questions the authority that society and addiction hold, pondering what life would be like without being shackled by these constraints. The lines “That just freaks me out, I just want another minute with it” expose the internal tug of war between wanting to stay in the comfort zone of addiction and yearning for freedom from it.

Next, we have “Never superficial you gon’ know it when it hit you, Get a little sentimental when I’m off the juice.” Here, Miller is acknowledging the intense emotional experiences and rawness that accompany the highs and lows of addiction.

Fast-forward to “Way up where we on, space shuttle, Elon, Time we don’t waste much, fuck and we wake up.” These lines are a testament to the transient and fleeting nature of fame and addictive behaviors. Time flies, experiences are momentary, and the highs are always followed by lows, with no “exit plan.”

The track concludes with the lines, “It’s been a while but I’m down ’til I’m out, And it is what it is ’til it ain’t.” The sentiments here reflect the cycle of addiction, the seemingly never-ending loop that’s hard to break, yet Miller also acknowledges that nothing lasts forever.

The Story Behind “What’s the Use?”

“What’s the Use?” comes from Mac Miller’s fifth studio album, “Swimming,” released in 2018. At this time, Miller was grappling with public scrutiny over his breakup with Ariana Grande and his DUI arrest. He was in a vulnerable state, both emotionally and mentally. This song encapsulates his attempt to reconcile his internal dilemmas, personal struggles, and societal expectations.

The album as a whole serves as Miller’s response to his life challenges, with each song dissecting a different aspect of his existence. “What’s the Use?” specifically focuses on the spiral of addiction and how it intersects with one’s sense of self and emotional stability. Miller doesn’t give clear answers, but he certainly offers a transparent look into his mind and heart, exposing the difficulties that come with being human.

It’s tragically fitting that Miller explores this topic so deeply, as he passed away just a month after the album’s release due to an accidental drug overdose. The song, now part of his legacy, offers a raw and sobering look into the complexities of his life, serving as both a cautionary tale and a tribute to his artistry.