Roundtrip: Late Recording artist’s family invites listeners inside his mind before his passing
Not everyone’s thoughts can be shared with the world, especially phosthumously. However, artists’ ideas can survive in tangible form to be shared even after they’ve gone.
On Jan. 17, the posthumous album Circles was released by Malcolm “Mac Miller” McCormick, an artist from Pittsburgh, Michigan.
His family sent a press release on Jan. 8 ahead of the lead single, Good News, which was released the following day.
“This is a complicated process that has no right answer,” the McCormicks wrote. “We simply know it was important to Malcolm for the world to hear it.”
Sometimes with posthumous albums, a death is so abrupt that the album sounds incomplete. The idea is there, but it is not able to be fleshed out because the artist no longer is.
Circles is not crippled with the fact that Miller passed. A circle is normally seen as a sign of completion, and Circles has a certainty about it that feels whole.
The album showcases glimpses of Miller’s state of mind during the recording process. There are many themes in the album that seem to be used as petals, but the flower itself is self-reflection.
There no sorrow in the body of work. Miller rapped and sang about what he felt were flaws, but he never uses them as a crutch in this album. He understands why he has his problems, but he is also open to grow from them.
“I’ve spent my life living with a lot of regrets,” Miller rapped. “You throw me off my high horse, I’ll probably fall to my death.”
When a person is dealing with egoism and regrets, there is normally a form of isolation soon to follow.
Miller sings about his mental space being cluttered and uncleanable, but two songs later, he sings about cleaning out his head. He talks about building a healthy relationship but also melodically raps, “Why I gotta build something beautiful just to go set it on fire.”
Miller’s thoughts are so conflicting that it feels like two different perspectives are being shown.
Circles does not feel like an album that was made by a man who was excited to go on tour, but a man who needed a release – a man who’s second to last message to the world via Twitter was “I just want to go on tour.”
Circles feels like a reflection of someone who did not have anywhere to turn while dealing with personal problems.
Listening to Circles feels bittersweet for many reasons. To hear someone wanting to advance in their life after they have already died, especially an accidental death, feels like an invasion of privacy when the message is so honest.
Circles sounds like the last records of an honest man continuing to figure it out. It sounds like a look in the mirror and being comfortably uncomfortable with personal flaws.
During an interview on Sirius XM radio station Sway In The Morning for his 2016 album ‘Divine Feminine,’ Miller said, “If you want to take care of those around you, take care of yourself first.”