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The Many Faces of Mac Miller

Matt Kelly | Contributing Writer

In January of last year, we were blessed with the posthumous album Circles by Mac Miller. Circles was meant to be one of a trilogy of albums that Miller was preparing, which also included his previous album, Swimming, in which the three albums would exemplify his diversity as a musician. One album would focus on singing and songwriting (Circles), one would focus mainly on rapping and hip-hop (which hasn’t been released and it is uncertain that it was ever finished), and one that would combine the two aspects of his musical abilities (Swimming). While us Macheads wait in what may be a false hope for the final album to complete Miller’s masterpiece trilogy, we’re overjoyed to see that his 2014 mixtape, Faces, will be coming to all streaming services on this Friday, October 15.

Fans of Mac Miller will agree that he went through a few compositional phases in his musical career. Miller had a number of mixtapes (K.I.D.S., On and On and Beyond, Best Day Ever) that he released before his debut studio album, Blue Slide Park, in November of 2011. Among these pieces, Miller’s style was a pop/hip-hop sound, which many refer to as “frat rap”. His next “phase” was with his albums Macadelic (2012) and Watching Movies with the Sound Off (WMWTSO, 2013), where he began transitioning into a sort of psychedelic hip-hop style, and even introducing his singing and traditional song form abilities. His last “phase” before he passed was with his albums The Divine Feminine (2016) and Swimming (2018), in which he began to heavily incorporate R&B and soul styles into his music. In his 2015 album, GO:OD AM, he sort of combined all his past albums’ styles and transitioned into his later styles (as seen with songs like “Brand Name” and “ROS”). Amidst his second “phase”, he released Faces (2014) as a mixtape, and it’s clear how it fits in perfectly with his other albums within that time period.

Faces may have been his most creative album so far at the time of it’s release on Mother’s Day of 2014. As the perfect conclusion to the previous two albums (Macadelic and WMWTSO) and a transitional piece into his final style, Faces captures Miller’s abilities in rapping, producing, singing, and storytelling, in both boom bap and psychedelic hip-hop styles. Most notably, the song, “Colors and Shapes” (recently released as a single on Spotify and Apple Music), tells the fantastical story of Miller’s adventures through space, time, and the deepest depths of the ocean, where he has a conversation with a captain of a sunken ship who tells him, “If you want to hold onto yourself, then let yourself slip”. Miller softly raps to an appropriately psychedelic instrumentation on “Colors and Shapes” that’s meant to put the listener into the mythical world and mind of Mac himself.

Faces comes to streaming services on October 15, an album with features from legendary artists like: Rick Ross, Earl Sweatshirt, Schoolboy Q, Thundercat, and many others. The lyrics and ideologies of Mac Miller have greatly impacted a generation of music-listeners for more than ten years now. If you’re interested in experiencing the talents of Mac Miller, it is never too late to indulge yourself in his work, and Faces is a great place to start. The bitter-sweet beauty of music is although an artist may be taken from this world far too early, their music can live on forever.

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