Earlier this month, Mac Miller’s family announced Miller was working on a new album called “Circles” before his death.
Originally intended to be a companion album to Miller’s 2018 album “Swimming,” producer Jon Brion decided to finish the album based on conversations he had with Miller prior to his untimely death. Brion said “Swimming” and “Circles” were the first two installments of an intended trilogy of albums.
Rarely does an estate or record label care about an artist’s work or vision after their untimely passing. While some record labels dig up old archives and voice notes in a clumsy attempt to make one final dollar on an artist, Mac Miller’s estate meticulously followed the late rapper’s vision in every action they took regarding his discography.
The album becomes more emotionally weighted given the context of the artists’ death. The 12 tracks give listeners a rare glimpse into Miller’s contemplative and introspective thoughts. Miller’s voice appears rough and tired, and his lyrical delivery remains confessional throughout the album’s entirety.
“Circles” opens the album with a slow, acoustic song primarily about him feeling directionless in life. Despite feeling he is trapped in a cycle, he doesn’t want other people around him to worry about him, saying “don’t you put any more stress on yourself, it’s one day at a time.”
The lead single, “Good News”, talks about how other people want him to suppress his negative emotions, but all he can be right now is negative. In the song “That’s On Me,” Miller holds himself accountable for his mental state, even at times blaming himself and expressing an apologetic tone.
However, the album is not entirely composed of sad songs. In the song “Blue World,” Miller raps about his trials but also reflects on his surroundings with a bit of hope. The track’s production composed of a sample with vocals that are chopped and pitched lingering in the background.
Throughout the album, Miller remains transparent on his struggles with depression, but on the final track, “Once a Day,” he extends an invitation for the listener to be transparent, as well. The lyrics “don’t keep it all in your head, the only place that you know nobody ever can see” and “once a day, I rise” show an artist who is both willing to fight his demons and help others around him do the same.
In the midst of his emotional confessions, Miller almost seems at peace and, at times, experiences a glimpse of joy and hope even during his darkest times. A sobering reality sets in once it is apparent that the hip-hop artist, who sees a light at the end of the tunnel, was never able to crawl out of his depression.
The album’s eclectic mixture of genres and hauntingly honest lyrics showcase Mac Miller as an artist to be reckoned with. Although the world will never witness a further evolution of the rapper, “Circles” acts as a wonderfully crafted epilogue in the life of the musician. The world lost an artist, but his art will remain in the lives of his many fans.