“Circles” impacts fans, Mac Miller’s legacy


Photo courtesy of Complex

Mac Miller's estate released the artist's final and posthumous album, "Circles", on Jan. 17.

Ryan Lynch, Reporter

When artist Mac Miller passed away on Sept. 7, 2018, the music world was sent into immediate shock. In the following hours of his passing, colleagues like J.I.D, Chance the Rapper, Wiz Khalifa and J. Cole all sent out their condolences for the rapper’s death, while the rest of the general public mourned at the abrupt loss of such a great person and musical talent.

“I was in shock,” senior Mary Clare Hughes said. “I didn’t really believe it, I guess. It was like losing a friend.”

Earlier this year, on Jan. 7, fans of Miller were told they would finally be given closure: the rapper’s posthumous album “Circles”. Miller was well into recording the album at the time of his death. 

There were questions surrounding the album: How close was the album to being done? Often times, posthumous albums are rushed out as a way to capitalize on an artist’s death, such was the case with XXXTentacion’s “Skins.”

“I was excited, but I had doubts that it wasn’t going to be his music,” Hughes said.

There was also a debate on what sort of tone the album would take. Some expected the more downbeat tone taken in Miller’s last album, “Swimming”, especially in light of the rapper’s death. Others were wondering whether it would be a “don’t be sad it’s over, be happy it happened” type of vibe. This would play into a more optimistic side that Mac had displayed over the course of his career on albums like “The Divine Feminine”.

 “Circles” succeeds the most when blending the two moods perfectly; it is the perfect representation of the expression “blue melancholy”, mixing both the sad reality of Miller’s passing as well as a hopeful optimism for the future. “Blue World”, arguably the best song on the album, takes a big picture look at life. Miller raps about how it’s important to stay upbeat in life in the face of great adversity. No matter how much the world has beaten you down, remember that everything’s going to be okay: a message made all the more poignant when told from the perspective of someone who didn’t end up okay.

Listening to the album, you almost assume Miller knew his death was coming, and he wanted to spread a message of positivity before it ended. In “Everybody”, Miller raps about how people need to live their lives because eventually there will be a time they can’t, so they have to make the most of it while they can. This move could only have been executed this successfully by Miller. The bittersweet tone evokes memories of Queen’s “The Show Must Go On” for Freddie Mercury. 

While Miller’s death obviously infects the album with a deep sadness, Miller himself, while aesthetically very mellow, tries to keep a positive attitude. On “Good News” Miller takes an introspective look at himself, and he reminds himself that no matter how bad things get, they could always be worse. For that he should be thankful. The peaceful contentment running through the album creates a blend of emotions within the listener; while you appreciate the intricate lyrics and the soft-spoken melodies, you are also reminded that this was all taken away from the world far too soon.

Oftentimes, the posthumous album is looked poorly upon because it’s seen as a quick cash-grab attempt by the estate to make money off of a fallen artist. But it’s clear here that Miller always had a clear vision for what this album would be. Intended to be an album to balance out the more dreary sound of “Swimming” with a softer, uplifting tone, Circles sounds like a finished product that had a clear intention to it.

Miller was always upfront with his drug problems, both in his music and in the media. “Circles” puts that honesty in a whole new light. The album provides a sad clarity to his death and gives fans the final chapter they needed. From the eclectic blend of indie-folk rock and rap to Mac’s quietly beautiful delivery, “Circles” is the perfect end to the career of an artist with much more to offer but satisfied with what he had.