Revisiting Mac Miller Through ‘Faces’


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After his death in 2018, Mac Miller’s estate has released several of his works-in-progress.

Katya Roudakov, Staff Writer

Mac Miller’s impact on our generation is difficult to overstate. Following his death in 2018, appreciation for Miller’s music skyrocketed, and many teenagers, including myself, found comfort in his messages. He was always open with his mental health issues, particularly in his music, and his talent for simplifying complex emotions into accessible lyrics validated the struggles of many.

While the general public knows Miller for his six studio albums, he had released over a dozen mixtapes at the time of his death. These mixtapes went mostly under the radar, especially with the rise of streaming in the music industry, since they couldn’t be released on platforms like Spotify or Apple Music.

When a song is released on a streaming platform, the artist can earn revenue. If a song uses a sample, it can’t be used for profit without permission, and these permissions need to be given by whoever created the sample. However, it’s often difficult to contact these artists or convince them to allow the use of their work. Because of this, the only ways for someone to listen to these projects online are through unofficial versions on SoundCloud and YouTube.

In May of 2020, Miller’s mixtape “K.I.D.S.” was made available on streaming platforms for its tenth anniversary. It has already amassed hundreds of millions of streams, largely due to the song “The Spins” going viral on TikTok. Another one of his mixtapes, a 2014 project called “Faces,” was released on streaming platforms on October 15. This mixtape will likely find similar levels of success to that of “K.I.D.S.”

Although fans agree that it’s almost impossible to rank the songs off of “Faces,” here’s a few to look out for:

Colors and Shapes – This one is already out, as sort of a lead single, and it’s for good reason that his estate chose to release it first. Along with being a great example of the type of songs on “Faces,” this song is reminiscent of his late-career albums “Swimming” and “Circles,” with its chill, jazz-infused beat and lyrics that remark on his signature deep themes. This song takes you on a journey, watching as Miller finds himself and carves out his place in the universe.

Diablo – Many fans agree that this is Miller’s best song. “Diablo” is a showcase of his writing and rapping chops on a mellow beat that leaves room for plenty of wordplays. Though it touches on the same deep themes fused throughout the “Faces” project, most of the rhymes are lighthearted, like “Colder than gazpacho, colder than the mono / Rappin’ head honcho, rocking shows like I was Bono.” These goofy lyrics make it just as gratifying to listen to songs like “The Spins” and “Kool-Aid & Frozen Pizza,” off of his earlier mixtape “K.I.D.S.”

Grand Finale – Death is interwoven into this track, making it eerie to listen to after Miller’s passing. People have long commented on the self-awareness he expressed, especially in the latter stages of his life, but “Grand Finale” takes this to another level. As the last track on “Faces,” it represents an end in more ways than one. Psychedelic guitar and an airy chorus, plus some of the darkest, realest lyrics that Miller has ever released, bring the record to a satisfying end. Just like his other records, “Faces” ends with the finality of death, which only intensifies the organic progression that his songs take you through.

For many, listening to “Faces” will be the first time hearing Mac Miller’s voice on new tracks since the release of his posthumous album “Circles” in January 2020. It’s sure to be emotional, especially for longtime fans, but I recommend this mixtape even to those who don’t usually listen to him. If you enjoy artists like Frank Ocean, Steve Lacy, or Anderson. Paak, you might find yourself really liking his music.

Give “Faces” a listen. It’s Miller’s thoughts and emotions poured into 24 songs, and even if you’re not a fan of hip hop, you’ll find something that resonates with you.