PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Ariana Grande did not mention Mac Miller by name during her concert in his hometown, but it was clear the late rapper was on her mind.
Miller, who was born in Point Breeze, died of an accidental drug overdose in September. He had dated Grande for two years before their relationship came to a close in May 2018.
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Since his death at just 26 years old, Grande has remained relatively quiet about her ex-boyfriend, aside from posting a photo of him on social media — and a heartfelt tribute on Instagram a few days after his apparent overdose.
So when the pop star headed to Miller’s hometown for her Wednesday concert at PPG Paints Arena, some were hoping she would pay tribute to her former love interest.
The singer did not directly mention the rapper by name, but her actions — including playing his music before the start of her show — made clear that he was on her mind.
One concert-goer, KC Prior, told KDKA that it was evident “how heartbroken” Grande was performing in Miller’s hometown.
The moment that was arguably most revealing of the singer’s distress came during her performance of ‘thank u next.’ When it came to the verse, “Wish I could say ‘thank you’ to Malcolm/ ‘cause he was an angel,” she choked up and was unable to sing the rapper’s name.
The genuine love for Mac Miller in this City is sooo unreal wow I love being apart of it. @ArianaGrande the strongest woman #SweetenerPittsburgh #SWTPittsburgh #SweetnerWorldTour pic.twitter.com/hhadxCeGSN
— Kacie Prior (@Kay_Cee_Prior) June 13, 2019
Prior, who posted a video of the emotional moment on Twitter, said that “no one seemed to be mad at the arena that she didn’t mention him.”
In fact, Prior said, “the arena was the loudest at that moment” and because the singer couldn’t complete the verse on her own, “everyone else did it for her.”
Pittsburgh, too, has been mourning the loss of Mac Miller, an artist so beloved in his hometown that he was given a key to the city.
Mere days after his death, fans gathered to honor and remember his legacy at Blue Slide Park — the place in Frick Park that Miller named his debut studio album after.
On Tuesday, Miller’s first posthumous record was released following several leaked songs.