Mac Miller’s posthumous album connects artist to audience

By Jamie O'Toole, Columnist

Mac Miller’s posthumous album “Circles” was released on Jan. 17, and is the sister album to “Swimming.”  Like the circulating thoughts Miller explores throughout the 12 songs, the album cleverly goes in a circle, as the lyrics of the last song connect with the lyrics in the first.

The intention of having “Circles” follow “Swimming” was to create the concept, “Swimming in Circles,” Miller’s family said in a written statement.

Producer Jon Brion finished the sister album, and although Miller could not finish his project, “Circles” certainly lived up to the concept intended. The diverse styles in the two albums compliment each other, completing a circle, the statement reads.

“Swimming” had 25.3% of bars dedicated to Miller’s poor mental health, according to Hip Hop by the Numbers, and “Circles” maintains that percentage, as it delves into Miller’s mental health and substance abuse.

Highlights of the album include the first and last song.

In the first song, “Circles,” Miller raps about being unable to change, trying again and again, only to end up at the start again like an endless circle.

“Don’t you put any more stress on yourself, it’s one day at a time/It’s gettin’ pretty late, gettin’ pretty late/Damn, and I find/It goes around like the hands that keep counting’ the time/Drawin’ circles,” he raps.

Within the lyrics for the last song, “Once a Day,” Miller expresses how everyone rushes, and never takes their time in life, even him, although he’s aware of it. “Everybody keep rushing,” he raps. “Why aren’t we taking our time?” he continues.

While every day seems to be a circle not only for Miller but the rest of the word, both songs advise listeners to take one day at a time, and to take our time. That’s all we can do, trapped in an endless ticking clock.

The message of the two songs, although placed on opposite sides of the album, do go hand in hand, but the lyrics at the start of “Circles” and the lyrics that bring “Once a Day” to a close make it seem as though the two belong together.  To understand the last song, one must restart the first, and so the album never truly ends.

The last line of “Once a Day” reads, “Once a day I drop but I can’t find a single word,” and the first line of “Circles” reads, “Well, this is what it look like right before you fall.” Both discuss plummeting, one of actually dropping and the other of what it looks like as the person falls.

Making the first and last song intertwine, so that the album never ends, is a brilliantly way to wrap up Miller’s final project, because if the album must be played on an endless loop, then Miller’s spirit never truly dies. He’s forever, just as the circle of this album is forever and never ending.

The concept of each song on “Circles” allows listeners to swim in the deep end of Miller’s painful thoughts and embrace how repetitive and overbearing they became before his overdose.

The lyrics “But I can’t find a single word” alone express what he was going through, how alone he might’ve felt.

Mental illness and addiction were an open part of the rapper’s life and his music, and many fans wish he found a word to say.

While his reality was anything but fortunate, and this last project may open the wounds of many fans who mourned his death in 2018, it gives an honest insight into the rapper’s mind. Up until now fans followed the journey, and this album continues the Mac Miller experience.

Whether it be accidental or on purpose, the fourth, fifth and sixth songs on the album altogether read, “Good News,” “I Can See” “Everybody.”

Like the album, Miller’s impact on hip hop and the way in which his lyrics have transcended are endless and forever circulating. The album suitably embodies that.