Mac Miller’s posthumous Circles paints an intimate picture of the rapper’s state of mind

The final, posthumous release from Mac Miller paints an intimate picture with lush beats and gentle vocals.


Naomi Hofferber, Senior Reporter

“Everybody’s gotta live
And everybody’s gotta die
Everybody just wanna have a good good time
I think you know the reason why”

Mac Miller’s posthumous album Circles dropped Jan. 17, marking the final release from the rapper, who died at age 26. It fits as a follow up to his August 2018 album Swimming.

With easy lo-fi beats and Miller’s soft vocals and bars, Circles takes listeners on a journey that ranges from optimistic vibes in “Blue World” to the reflective “Good News,” the first song that was released after his death on Sept. 7, 2018. The song dives into the urge to downplay personal struggles to those around him, with lyrics “Good news, good news, good news, that’s all they wanna hear, no they don’t like it when I’m down.”

The album balances setting an atmosphere with a gentle dreaminess in the beats and lyrics that feel relatable and accessible — it’s a window into the mental state of Miller as he struggles, accepts, and reflects on how he feels, and how he’s actually doing.

Songs like “That’s on Me,” are a hard acceptance: “I don’t know where I’ve been lately, but I’ve been alright, I said good morning this morning and I’ll say good night.”

“Complicated” illustrates Miller’s inner struggles, with lyrics like, “Inside my head is getting pretty cluttered, I try but I can’t clean up this mess I made, before I start to think about the future, first can I please get through a day?” There’s a sense of being overwhelmed that hits close to home for anyone who struggles with their mental health; the exhaustion that comes with trying to get better.

Throughout the album, even as Miller outlines his battles, there’s still a tinge of optimism within; someone coming to terms with how they feel, and wanting to get better. It’s this optimism that feels so engaging, and even more devastating coming from the late rapper. Lyrics throughout the album hit particularly hard; “I’m way too young to be getting old,” and “some people say they want to live forever, that’s way too long I’ll just get through today,” off of “Complicated” hurt to listen to.

“Surf” stands out as a beautiful gem towards the end of the album; the soft acoustic song is truly lovely, as Miller shows off the tenderness in his voice. Miller goes from painting lush landscapes in “I Can See” before pulling into the closeness of “Everybody,” dancing between what feels more lighthearted and what feels more raw. The album captures a type of sadness that feels delicate and drives towards introspection, and makes for a pleasant, if not melancholy, listen.

Miller’s authenticity and openness will be what marks his legacy as a rapper. Mental health is incredibly challenging to talk about; the only person who can see what is going on is yourself. For Miller to create a whole album exploring how he feels and being honest with himself, and then allowing listeners that insight, he creates something that stands out.