When “Circles” was released a little over a week ago, it marked the final time Mac Miller would share his poetry with the world. Thankfully, unlike most posthumous projects, this one feels like it received the love, care and time it deserved before being released. Sporting all the familiar funky beats alongside the soothing rasp of his voice, the sonic soulfulness of “Circles” reflects the maturity Miller developed before he passed away. It’s a process of evolution we’ve been able to experience as listeners since the release of his first album “Blue Slide Park” in 2011, and as the elements of R&B ring louder than ever in “Circles,” the rhythm of his heart rings truer than ever alongside the blues of his soul.
The brutal honesty of this album allows fans to get a look at the late singer in his most vulnerable state. Miller always carved his own path in the hip-hop world, never failing to give off the impression of being completely genuine as he bared his soul before his audience. Here, he opens up about mental health issues and reveals a facet of his persona many of his fans can likely relate to despite their potential reservations to speak about it. Lyrics like “I’m so tired of being tired” and “I’m busy trippin’ over sh-t that hasn’t even happened yet” touch on those feelings of anxiousness that many young adults struggle with today. Miller’s smooth cadence sails in a carefree fashion through songs like “Complicated” and “Blue World,” showcasing a remarkable degree of artistic honesty as he tackles one truth after another. Discussions about depression, the loss of love and the burden of fortune ebb and flow through the album’s lyrics. It’s the type of album you can put on right before going to bed so you can vibe to the euphoric production while reassuring yourself that no one is always okay.
That said, I can’t say that this album is going to be a game changer or that it’s perfect, because it simply isn’t. Then again, it’s not supposed to be a perfect project. It’s a human album in every sense of the word — it’s frail, kind and imperfect. There is no fluff. Every word reveals something about Miller’s mind; even tracks like “Surf,” which some may consider to be an average love song, go deep by focusing on the anxiety-inducing complications of what it means to truly want to build a future with someone else — to know you need them forevermore all the while acknowledging you’re bound to fail them time and time again.
The level of vulnerability on this final album is only made more impactful by the singer’s passing. It’s a powerful meditation on struggles with mental health from the perspective of someone who could effectively verbalize the abstract feelings of much of his audience. “Circles” feels complete, not just because it’s Miller’s last album, but because it’s an effective reminder of why we appreciate artists like him: artists who pull back all of their layers and bare their souls for us in their music. Artists who give it their all.
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