Mac Miller’s “Circles”: A Final Goodbye For Fans

Ryan Jones, Managing Editor

Mac Miller first came into my life in 2010, when he was just an 18-year-old kid releasing his songs and music videos on his YouTube channel. While I never knew him personally, I felt as if we grew up together in a sense; as I grew so did he and his music ability. Miller went from rapping about the Nikes on his feet to discussing the pain of drug addiction, an addiction that ultimately ended his life at the age of 26.

On Jan. 17, fans got to listen to a new Mac Miller album for the first time, for the last time.

“Circles” is a step away from Miller’s hip-hop beginnings — on most of the songs Miller’s stripped down vocals are accompanied by some likewise gentle guitar and not much else. The album was originally intended to be the second installment of a trilogy, this one coinciding with his last release, “Swimming.”

“Some people say they want to live forever, that’s way too long, I’ll just get through the day.”

The 12 tracks of “Circles” showcase the emotions and thoughts Miller had leading up to his tragic death in 2018. At points throughout the album it’s almost as if he’s speaking from beyond the grave or as if he knew what was soon to come.

As he often did in his work, he is upfront and honest about his mental state. On “Complicated,” Miller sings, “inside my head is pretty cluttered, I try, but can’t clean up this mess I made.”

While there are lines like this where Miller discusses his own battles with anxiety and depression, there are likewise examples of Miller coming to terms with his situation, and at times even showing some newfound optimism about it.

On “Blue World,” one of the more upbeat songs on the album, Miller sings, “one of these days we’ll all get by, don’t be afraid, don’t fall in line.”

Miller truly battles with both sides of this on the second to last song on the album, “Surf.” The song is as stripped back as they come; Miller’s raspy voice is accompanied only by a guitar playing a progression of soft chords for most of the song. He perfectly encapsulates the feeling of depression in the second verse, singing, “sometimes I get lonely, not when I’m alone, but it’s more when I’m standing in crowds that I’m feeling the most on my own.”

He follows this sad realization with a more positive outlook on it: “I know that somebody knows me, I know somewhere there’s home.”

In his farewell to his fans and the world at large, Miller gives only a taste of what could have been. He builds off of the ideas that defined him while giving a positive spin on them. Mac Miller’s unexpected death was a punch in the gut for his fans. “Circles” is the closure that was needed from that.