Expert vs. new: Mac Miller's "Circles" in review | 9Lives
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If the legacy of Mac Miller taught us anything, it’s that life is fleeting but music can surpass the borders imposed on us by vices such as addiction, trauma, heartbreak and crippling mental health struggles. So while I may not have the expertise to eloquently explain the technical qualities of his music, I’m very happy to be able to absorb the richness and diversity of his music for the first time, one last time

The bittersweet news about the release of his posthumous album entitled “Circles” came with the release of the single “Good News”. When the first base note hit, the reaction was immense. Music rarely moves me to any noticeable emotion, but this song took me back to my first experience with Mac. 

I listened to “Dunno” for the first time in 2018 when my almost-boyfriend, now full-time boyfriend, played it in his car on our way to our first official date. As is usually the case with me, I replayed the song to death until I dipped my foot even deeper into the Mac Miller pool. In a pool that I thought would be shallow (a conclusion I derived from the fact that he dated Arianna Grande), I sunk to the depths and floated all at the same time. 

“Good News” is just that – a feel-good, walking on air experience that communicates precisely why Mac Miller’s expertise wasn’t just good, it was great. Listening to the full album was difficult, as it will be for most people. As Donna-Claire Chesman described it, his death broke hip-hop’s heart, yet the emotions I felt while listening to the full album was pure joy. The silky richness of his voice not only fills the room, but also expands a place in your chest until you feel so full that you “drop but can’t find a single word”.

Mac Miller’s final album is not his last – his music will be revived until it fits into every possible context of my life. He left us with a diversity so rich that he lives on in the nostalgic remnants of his childhood that he captures in his lyrics, the ultra-funky basslines of “Swimming”, and the levels of musicality, melody and vulnerability that he experiments with in “Circles”. 

My boyfriend used to play “Dunno” and say: “Let’s just listen and be sad.” I’m changing that to: “Let’s just listen and be.”


I’ve never been a huge Mac Miller fan and never really thought of listening to his music. But when Nina insisted that I give his newly released album a go, I figured why not. From the get-go, the album was not what I expected at all. The track “Circles’’ reminds me of the type of song that would be jammed on a Sunday night at Balboa, a favourite after-work haunt here in Stellenbosch. The song has a smooth and soulful sound and with Mac’s deep and slightly husky voice, it’s enough to give anyone goosebumps.

The entire album has a natural flow and relaxed melody that creates an almost dreamy escape. While listening to the album, I found myself swaying side-to-side every so often. The album also has a few surprise songs with a bigger beat to keep it fun and fresh, like the song “Hands”.

I love the song “Surf”, which is the 11th track on the album. The lyrics are a mix of childhood reminiscence, sadness, and optimism. It’s another more laid-back track with a folksy psychedelic sound, which is another reason why I love it so much.

I am happy to say that I really enjoyed listening to the album and it certainly won’t be my last time. If you, like me, haven’t given Mac Miller a listen, be sure to do so. You won’t be disappointed!


The girl with the sleek cut that can shop up a storm in a second-hand store. I love a good story, and I love it even more if it is told well. Don't like my blazer? Don't care. Looking for a short and sweet book or film review? You've come to the wrong place, my friend.

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