Mac Miller’s ‘Circles’ Offers Introspection and a Final Goodbye


Mac Miller made music for those who felt like he did and for those who were hurt like he was. (Illustration by Justin Prather | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Arielle Gulley, Arts Writer


I remember first listening to Mac Miller when he released his “K.I.D.S.” mixtape in 2010, and I thought of him as this upbeat goofy kid who could rap and was all about having a good time. Watching his MTV show “Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family” seemed to further solidify my thoughts of the artist as a carefree, happy-go-lucky type of guy who simply loved making music and was great at what he did. Miller’s music seemed to grow as he did and the optimistic boy behind the music seemed to develop into a troubled man before our eyes. With his “Swimming” album, Miller dips into new lyrical stylings that reflect his self-realization as he has overcome personal problems — Miller sings,“Lucifer is human and so are we, all I ever want is what I need.”

Now, nearly a year and a half after Miller’s passing in 2018 and a couple of days shy of what would have marked his 28th birthday, his family has released his sixth studio album “Circles.” The album is a sister album to his previously released “Swimming” and a final goodbye of sorts for fans. Miller’s struggles with substance abuse and his own personal demons were no secret to his fans and anyone who listened to his work, but it’s never been as evident as when you listen to this latest release. The lyrics on this album reflect the pain Miller found towards the end of his life, and it causes listeners to reflect on their own lives and circumstances as well. 


The Album

The album is full of somber tunes that are perfect for those days when we are alone in our rooms and feeling reflective or maybe craving some music with actual substance as opposed to the typical pop-soaked sounds to which we’ve grown accustomed. Though the album is — for the most part – mellow and therapeutic, there are also more upbeat tunes and Miller can be heard not only rapping on the tracks but also providing instrumentals. It may come as a surprise to many that on top of the career he built for himself with impressive rapping skills, Miller was, in fact, a fully bona fide musician. On the album, you can hear him performing bass, piano, xylophone and other instruments accompanying his vocals. While his skill has never been questioned and his musical ability unparalleled, it’s his lyrics that were what set him apart and it’s never been more evident than on “Circles.”

The lyrics of Miller’s songs have always offered a way into his mind. Listeners have been allowed an unfiltered glimpse into the artist’s thoughts and his personal dilemmas with this newly released work. Miller’s track “Complicated” gives us lyrics such as, “Some people say they want to live forever. That’s way too long — I’ll just get through today.” This line hits so close to home for so many of us and makes you feel for him. Here we had this successful artist who seemed to be living day to day with no longing for more out of life. We’ve all had these moments in life when we doubt ourselves and whether or not we want to even try. It’s these types of lyrics that Miller was writing for himself without even realizing how relatable his troubles were for so many of us. 

The track “Good News” seems to carry a similar message of feeling overwhelmed, with lyrics like, “Why can’t it just be easy? Why does everybody need me to stay? Oh, I hate the feeling.” These aren’t songs simply made for those who like rap music or young people, it’s for anyone and everyone feeling defeated or overpowered by the lives they lead. 



Overall, I think the album is a deeper musical experience than most may expect. It’s sad to think that these deep and meaningful lyrics — portraying struggles and self-doubt — could have been overlooked for the most part had Miller been alive to perform them. I think the album is going to force listeners to think of their own lives and trials as they catch a glimpse of Miller’s. The songs are emotional and force introspection amongst listeners.

I would recommend taking your time when listening to this album and taking in what he had to say to listeners. It’s honest and pure. It’s painful at moments and yet you can’t stop listening. Miller struggled during his life, and he never attempted to hide that struggle or throw a Band-Aid over it.

He made music for those who felt like he did and for those who were hurt like he was. 


[email protected]