Review: Mac Miller comes full circle

The passed rapper’s most recent album, Circle, finishes off Mac Miller’s legacy

The album cover for Circles, produced by Mac Miller and Jon Brion.

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The album cover for “Circles,” produced by Mac Miller and Jon Brion.

Jennifer Le, Staff Writer

Two weeks ago, Mac Miller’s Instagram announced the release of Miller’s companion album to Swimming, Circles, which he wrote and recorded before his passing. Fans hadn’t expected any more music related to the singer and rapper since he passed over a year ago. The two albums hold very different styles from each other, but compliment one another in the products and emotions from Miller’s mental health. The rapper dove deeper into his suppressed feelings with each song in this album, but made it light enough to listen to.

The first song of the album, “Circles” begins with the line, “well, this is what it look like right before you fall,” which did surprise me when I first heard while listening. It’s his self-reflection on both hopelessness and acceptance in the low state he was in. He continuously aimed toward acceptance of a tragic fate in “That’s On Me” and “Complicated,” pleading others not to blame themselves for what may happen, but acknowledging he may be at fault for where he’s ended up. While the meaning is heartbreaking, Miller played with his more upbeat singing voice like he did in Swimming, taking the more R&B style route.

While he may have mostly accepted a not-so-happy ending, Miller did question his worth and decisions through the tracks “Woods” and “Surf,” wondering on about how the future may enlighten him, but still held back from getting hopeful. You can tell how lifeless the rapper had seen the world before he passed as he talked more about not being able to escape death. The sixth track on Circles, “Everybody,” repeats Miller’s lyrics “everybody’s gotta live, and everybody’s gonna die,” where he continued deeper into hopelessness of living. While he’s far from hopeful, Miller looked onto the bright side for a while in “Good News,” where while he’s accepted fate, he’s wanted keep at ease and enjoy everything in life while he can.

Miller held onto what he cherishes in life, those who he loved and loved him. One of my favorite songs on the album, “I Can See” is bittersweet. The rapper illustrated how his love keeps him going, like an aspiration in life. In the chorus of the song, he sung “now I know if life is but a dream then so are we, show me something,” an indication of desperation for his lover to give him hope and light in darker times. Some may even notice small bits in the song where his ex-girlfriend, Ariana Grande, is perceived to be harmonizing to the melody (not yet confirmed by the singer herself). Miller mused for a better future, but he continued to hold back from hope.

The rapper and singer’s closing song on the album, “Once A Day,” was his reflection with himself. He remained open about his struggles with substance abuse that started in childhood, which is sad to see how exposure to such toxins had taken his life. Miller contemplated waking up everyday, and at first, it sounded like he was talking about him and a loved one, but it stretched into consideration of his own regrets. As the album began to finish, Miller reflected about keeping in his emotions and continuously getting consumed by his regrets. He ended the last of his work with the line “once a day, I try, but I can’t find a single word,” finishing off Circle in hopelessness that it’s too late for him.

It’s sad to see his career end like this, with his thoughts and small cries for help to be composed into an album he never got to see the release of. Miller’s play on his upbeat singing with depressing lyrics of him reflecting upon his regrets in life wraps up the album with a sad twist, but listening to it somehow gives me a better perspective of life. Circle, while it may have been Miller’s drift to death, shows how his life was cut too short before he could heal from the regrets he drowned in.