Associate Sports Editor
It has been a little over a year now since the passing of Pittsburgh artist and rapper Mac Miller, but his legacy continues to live on through his newly released posthumous album, “Circles.”
“Circles” is a continuation of Miller’s 2018 Grammy nominated album “Swimming”, the overarching concept connecting the two albums being “swimming in circles.”
Sonically, “Circles” is relaxing. Miller’s voice is soothing over the strings and funky baselines that dominate the album, and it is a very peaceful yet funky listen. Miller is also singing more than he is rapping on “Circles”, and he sounds great. Miller has sung before on songs, but not to this extent.
“Circles” further shows Miller as an artist rather than just a rapper. All artists undergo growth throughout their careers, but it is hard to point out another hip-hop artist who changed their sound so drastically throughout their life span as a creative.
It is apparent through “Circles” that this new sound that Miller was making was the type of music that he desperately wanted to make. Miller was always in his wheelhouse when rapping, but his vocal performance on “Circles” is the best he has ever sounded singing.
The content on “Circles” is similar to what was on “Swimming.” Miller is reflecting on life and where he is now, both mentally and physically. There is a chilling aspect to the album, considering how uplifting and positive it sounds in contrast with his passing.
“Circles” lead single, “Good News,” has Miller reflecting on how people only want to hear that he is doing well and that they want him to repress the negative emotions that he may be feeling. Most of the content on “Circles” follows this trend of trying to be more open and seeing life clearer, something Miller was not able to do earlier in his career with his drug addiction and the effect that had on his mental state.
On the song “Woods”, the first line that is spoken is “things like this ain’t built to last, I might just fade like those before me.” If you are a fan of Miller, you know that he has had numerous songs throughout his career where he foreshadows his own death. Here, Miller’s prediction comes to fruition, as he has already faded away before he could even see his fans’ reaction to “Circles” as an album. This line can also reference how many musicians (unfortunately) die young.
If your heart strings were not already being pulled on, there are backing vocals from Ariana Grande, who Mac had a special relationship with, on the song “I Can See”. Jon Brion, the man who was helping Mac create “Circles,” claimed in an interview the vocals from Grande were already there when he was tasked with cleaning up the project for release.
Throughout his career, Miller struggled with drug use, and it ultimately was the cause of his death. However, like “Swimming,” Miller sounds like he has turned a corner in life and is ready to start over again on “Circles”. It feels and sounds like Miller was hitting the second prime in his career; this half being more positive than the first.
As a longtime fan of Mac, it is hard to listen to “Circles”. Following the ups and downs in his life and witnessing the growth and change in Mac as a man and artist makes this album much more special. “Circles” hurts and heals. It hurts to know he is gone when he was at a healthy point in his life, but it heals hearing hope from Mac and knowing that he will never truly be gone, but that he will continue to impact his fans and the world as a whole through his music.
“Circles” is an introduction to the next part of Mac Miller’s career; a part of his life and growth as an artist that the world will not be able to witness. If this is the last Mac Miller album ever, it was a perfect farewell and it completes the growth that Miller wanted for himself as an artist. The kid from Pittsburgh developed into one of the most unique artists hip-hop has ever seen.
Rest easy, Mac.