The recent deaths of cultural phenomena such as Lil Peep, XXXTentacion, Nipsey Hustle, Mac Miller, and most recently Juice WRLD have rocked the music world. However, for some of those rappers and musicians, a legacy continues to build post-mortem, as albums have been released after their untimely deaths. Mac Miller’s new album “Circles” was released on Friday, a little over a year after his death in September of 2018. The album tackles things such as learning how to live with addiction and the hope of being free from it one day, as well as depression and the possibility of life being cut short. Despite the overall sense of sadness, the album features songs such as “Blue World” that give the synthetic, light-hearted beats that fans associate with the rapper. The new album builds on his previous album “Swimming” and gives his last thoughts on his fame and life post-relationship with Ariana Grande. Junior communications student and Mac Miller fan Johnathan Cleghorn said that the album highlighted Miller’s pain: “I think the album was kind of a cry for help in some aspects. It’s kind of obvious to the listener that something was wrong. It was a tragedy that no one was able to reach out and see that his needs be met.” Junior University of Arkansas student and Miller fan, Matt Seiter, said he was conflicted about how to listen to the album. “I’m confused on how I should listen to these songs, knowing that Mac is now gone. Should I bump the new album in my car or should I think about the lyrics in a way to psychoanalyze myself so that I know when to reach out for help instead of dealing with it primarily on my own?”
Whether or not you are into hip-hop or rap music, Mac’s six total albums, along with many EP’s, mixtapes and singles, deal with themes that are relatable to many. When thinking about difficult subjects such as depression and drug use, there are many forms of counseling at John Brown University and in the surrounding Northwest Arkansas area that offer support and assistance to those struggling.
Sheldon Pierce, a writer for Pitchfork magazine, said, “When a young rapper dies too soon, fans start listening to their music much more closely, combing over their lyrics to find the writing on the wall. With Miller, you don’t have to dive too deeply. ‘God Speed’ is rife with thoughts about going down a destructive path and on ‘Brand Name,’ he wrote a disclaimer that proved tragically prescient: ‘To everyone who sell me drugs/Don’t mix it with that bullsh*t, I’m hopin’ not to join the 27 Club.’ But ‘Circles’ dispels any sense of fatalism in his music. He was still idealistic; in these songs, he is searching for a way to break the cycle, a way forward. It’s only appropriate that Mac Miller’s final musical act be one of self-reformation.” According to Pierce and many other critics and listeners, “Circles” fills in the gaps that “Swimming” left and allows Mac’s memory to be forever cemented as someone who was looking for change in the midst of darkness.