Mac Miller illustrates his battle with addiction, abjection and affection with “Faces”

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Jia Takayoshi

Mac Miller’s mixtape “Faces” brings listeners on a drug-fueled journey through his life.

Suhani Kashyap, Staff Writer

American rapper Mac Miller’s mixtape “Faces” finally hit streaming platforms on Oct. 15, 2021. The 24-track album initially came out in May 2014 through unofficial streaming services such as Soundcloud, yet was never formally released till recently. The project brings listeners on a drug-fueled journey through Miller’s life, exploring recurring themes of substance abuse, depression and existentialism.

The Pittsburgh rapper released a plethora of mixtapes and albums throughout the 2010s, such as “K.I.D.S.,” “Best Day Ever” and “Swimming.” Miller frequently discussed his struggles with addiction and depression through his lyrics, unfortunately passing away due to accidental overdose in 2018. Since his death, Miller’s team delivered fans with “Circles” in 2020. His voice has also appeared on features such as “I Believed It” by dvsn and Ty Dolla $ign.

The tracklist opens with “Inside Outside”, introducing listeners to Miller’s psychedelic style. He proclaims that he “shoulda died already” as he echoes the album name, “faces.” The jazz instrumentals spin a playful contrast to the despondent lyrics. 

“Diablo” includes a sample from Duke Ellington and John Coltrane’s “In a Sentimental Mood.”  Miller says, “I ain’t a star, I’m way farther with the constellations / Contemplatin’ suicide like it’s a DVD,” revealing his war with suicidal thoughts. The lyrics serve a raw, yet haunting perspective into Miller’s mind.

While the jazz-fused-rap composition feels as though it is out of a children’s coloring book, the lyrics speculate rather mature themes.”

“Funeral,” a melancholy melody, dives further into Miller’s suicidal thoughts. In “Funeral” Miller explains, “doing drugs is just a war with boredom but they sure do get me,” highlighting his struggles with drug addiction throughout his life. The hardships of drug addicts remain a taboo topic even today; however, Miller displays that it’s one in need of discussion. 

“Colors and Shapes” has a childlike, dreamy feel to it, paying homage to the name of the song. While recording “Faces,” Miller owned a poodle-mix named Ralphie, who passed away shortly after the tape dropped. However, he is brought back to life as he stars in the “Colors and Shapes” music video, in which he is seen battling a series of obstacles pertaining to the lyrics of the song. He is given the same hat that Miller wore in his “Diablo” music video, a clever detail. In addition, pieces of the abstract album cover appear throughout the music video, hinting at deeper meaning behind the album art.

Unlike the rest, “Insomniak” (feat. Rick Ross) and “Polo Jeans (feat. Earl Sweatshirt)” stray away from the despondent themes across the album, carrying a rather hyped, confident energy. The tracks feel familiar to Miller’s previous work, containing compositions similar to that of his “K.I.D.S.” album from 2010.

“Faces” is criminally underrated, easily being one of Miller’s most acclaimed projects. While the jazz-fused-rap composition feels as though it is out of a children’s coloring book, the lyrics speculate rather mature themes. Not for the light of heart, Miller serves a raw perspective of the demons he faced throughout his life. Overall, the abstract style and utter authenticity exemplified in this album is a league of its own.