Mac Miller’s final studio album and the first posthumous release following his death in 2018, “Circles,” was meant to be a companion album to “Swimming” but was never completed. The album captures much of Mac’s life in what would be his final days pulling from a wide array of genres and sounds. It’s a haunting record about the life cycles we find ourselves caught in. For Mac, “Circles” was meant to be a completion and possible escape from a loop of self-destruction. It’s a melancholy idea that we’re all swimming in circles but the album still holds out hope that there’s a way to break the cycle.
Every generation has a voice. For many young people, Mac Miller was that voice. Starting as seemingly just another braggadocious white rapper, Mac matured to become one of the most thoughtful emcees of the 2010s. Mac’s music constantly evolved with each album sounding different from the last. He slowly moved away from underground-inspired rap like MF Doom toward jazzy lo-fi. “Faces” was his magnum opus. It was here that the darkness of his lifestyle was catching up to him and he was translating it into his music. After the mixtape, Mac endeavored to live a “cleaner” life as he hated being sober. He started dating pop star Ariana Grande and making an R&B album inspired by her. He would release another critically commercially successful album in August 2018. Things were good for Mac. Struggling with substance abuse and depression for much of his young life, Mac died in September 2018 of an overdose due to a bad batch of drugs made with fentanyl.