Sept. 7, 2018 was a sorrowful day. Media outlets were flooded with news about the passing of Mac Miller, and in that moment it seemed that everyone was affected by the  sudden death of the 26-year-old star. In the weeks that followed, dozens of rappers showed love to the Pittsburgh spitter who many of them grew up with—a tribute concert was held in his honor along with a string of vigils in his hometown.

Around that time, Boston rapper Token was putting the finishing touches on his latest album, Between Somewhere, an LP that was in part inspired by Mac's earlier records. A few days before what would have been the Swimming rapper's 27th birthday, Token sat down with XXL and discussed how impactful Mac's music was to him as he began creating his own.

“He inspired me to really be honest—really be honest," Token says. "Some of the stuff he’s saying on Watching Movies With the Sound Off, he’s so utterly honest and it’s like the ugly truth, even if it doesn’t sound right."

"What I respected so much about him is I felt like he could’ve stayed the route he was coming up off, the real poppy surface—not to diss that—but I felt like that wasn’t his goal; fame wasn’t his goal," he continues. "Doing creatively what he wanted to do was his goal, and that inspires me ’cause that’s what’s important to me, too.”

The day Token released Between Somewhere, he uploaded a photo of him and Mac Miller on Instagram, with the caption: "I wouldn’t have made this project without ur work to look up to.. showing me that it’s ok to be 100% honest and me, and there’s always room to grow and explore."

The two met at a couple years ago at Germany's annual Splash! Festival. Once Token gathered up the courage to walk up to Mac, they began politicking about their music. It was a full circle moment for the "Treehouse" rapper, who attempted to pass Mac a CD of his with a note attached more than eight years ago.

“The note was just how much his music meant to me and how much he inspired me," remembers Token, now 20. "’Cause to see, you know, a young, white dude coming from the suburbs, and just the music he made over time… it’s like he grew up with us. When we were 12 and he was making the fun stuff, we enjoyed that. And when he was experimenting with drugs and different stuff, that’s when were doing the same shit. When he fell in love, that’s when we fell in love. And the note was just telling him how much he inspired me and how much I wanted him to check out my stuff.”

With Swimming—the album Mac released one month prior to his death—nominated in the Grammys competitive Best Rap Album category, Token feels the project deserves the win.

“I mean my two favorite albums of that [category] are Mac and Travis," says Token, ultimately choosing Swimming as his preferred project. "The album speaks to a lot of people and you kinda didn’t even realize when it came out. But to see how many people have come out and said how much that album means to them, I think that has really connected with his audience and speaks to them more than the other ones do."

On Feb. 10, Mac Miller's parents, Karen Meyers and Mark McCormick, will attend the Grammy ceremony in their son's honor. Mac is going up against Travis Scott, Cardi B, Nipsey Hussle and Pusha-T, all of whom put out groundbreaking efforts in 2018.

Happy Birthday, Mac. Rest in power.

See Photos of Mac Miller's Different Looks Over the Year

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