Hip-Hop took one of its biggest losses seen in that decade in September 2018. Malcolm McCormick, stage name Mac Miller, was found dead from an overdose in his Studio City home. Since then, people have been extremely tentative on the topic of the release of a possible posthumous album. Enter “Circles,” an album that McCormick was already originally going to release as a follow-up to his 2018 record, “Swimming.” While McCormick foreshadowing his death in his music is nothing new, him doing so on his latest record while also having passed away adds a whole layer of sadness to the mix. It doesn’t help that the entire tracklist feels like one giant departure for anyone that has connected with Miller’s music on some level.
The album opens with its title track which washes over the audience with a tired, sad and relaxed melody that gives insight to Miller’s state of mind at the time of recording the song. The lyrics also do a great job of giving listeners the same insight that the music does. This should come as no surprise considering that Mac Miller has always been open about his thoughts and experiences on his past projects, but this song, along with the rest of his album, has some of McCormick’s best work.
A track that personally stands out from the project is the song, “Good News.” The song excels in dropping lines that convey struggles that those suffering from addiction and mental health problems may face and the feelings associated with them. The upbeat melody of the music in the chorus is a juxtaposition for the gloomy lyrics paired with McCormick’s exhausted voice behind the sound. McCormick ends the song with a hopeful message to himself and his fans that makes the song slightly harder to listen to.
Aside from the great tracklist included in “Circles,” the process of its release is one of the most respectful executions of a posthumous release to date. In a world full of disrespectful cash grabs off of rappers with some of the biggest names, this album feels like a breath of fresh air. It’s very unfortunate that Mac Miller will not continue to release great music. At the end of the day, “Circles” is a great departure for an artist that didn’t have a satisfying exit.