WWhen Mac Miller passed away in late 2018, many of his fans thought that this was the end and there would be no more to hear from the 26-year-old.
Over a year later however, on January 8th, Mac Miller’s family announced that they would be releasing a posthumous album entitled “Circles”. They said that at the time of Miller’s death, this album was nearly finished and was to accompany his previous album, “Swimming”.
Miller died on September 7th, 2018 from an accidental overdose.
In a post on Instagram, his family said that releasing a posthumous album “is a complicated process that has no right answer”.
The first single from the album “Good News” was released a few days after the announcement. The song instantly earned millions of views on YouTube and now stands at 48 million streams on Spotify.
The song discusses the negative feelings in Miller’s life which he feels the need to suppress saying that all people really want to hear is how well he is doing, even if it isn’t so. However, he acknowledges that he is getting better at managing the pressure.
The song, like many of the others on the album carries a lo-fi and mellow melody and tempo, which many of Miller’s previous work attracted fans in huge numbers.
Despite Mac Miller’s music falling into the Rap category, he is far from your typical rapper. His quietly spoken, almost mumbling lyrics are poetic and manage to paint a clear picture of how he sees the world.
Listening to some of the lyrics on this new album, many fans expressed online that the lyrics post Miller’s death took on new meanings and sentiment that they wouldn’t have normally. Examples of this include the line “there’s a whole lot more for me waiting on the other side,” and the opening line of the album “This is what it looks like, right before you fall,” among others.
The opening song, which is also called “Circles” mentions Miller’s fear that he is directionless and is constantly in a cycle that he can’t break out of. This is almost a direct continuation of “So It Goes” on his previous album which carries a similar theme.
Much of his album is in line with “Swimming” and is a clear next step in his musical progression. His family stated that the two album concept was based on the idea of “Swimming in Circles”.
They said that both albums were to complement each other using different styles, thus completing a circle. Producer Jon Brion, had been working with Miller in the months before his death and has since dedicated his life to finishing the album from conversations he had had with the rapper.
His songs incorporate themes of regret, loss, pressure, overcoming mental illness and what the future may hold for him. Every song, though extremely well put together, is tinged with a sadness that his death cannot erase.
Some songs could be argued refer to his very famous two year relationship with successful pop singer, Ariana Grande, which ended only a few months prior to his death. In one song, “Hand Me Downs” Miller refers to wanting, at some point in the future, to have children and make his jeans into hand me downs.
Posthumous albums are not a new phenomenon. The first posthumous album was John Lennon’s 1984 album “Milk and Honey” which was released four years after his death and included songs that he had made with Yoko Ono.
Leonard Cohen, though he passed only weeks after the release of the “You Want It Darker” album, another album “Thank you for the Dance” was released nearly a year later and is viewed as a continuation of the previous one.
Another rapper who, like Miller, died of an accidental overdose, was Lil Peep who released two albums since his death which was full of unreleased music as well as tracks that had been pulled from previous albums. Other artists that released work such as this include Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin.
Though posthumous albums are often welcomed by fans of the deceased artist, some argue that it is exploitation of the artist, who won’t even get to see its success or reap the rewards. Mac Miller’s album however has received little to no negative feedback. Circles debuted at number three on the Billboard Top 200.
For many fans, Circles is the finale that they’ve yearned for since Millers passing and is a fitting goodbye from someone who had so much potential taken far too soon.
Image Credit: Mac Miller album cover