A Retrospective look on Mac Miller’s “Faces” LP

    A Review on Mac Miller’s “Faces” Mixtape

    More stories from Kyle Sipprell


    Photo by REMember Record Label

    Mac Miller’s “Faces” LP offers a new perspective after his death.

    On Sept. 7, the world lost a beautiful soul. Rest in peace to Malcolm McCormick, more well-known as Mac Miller, you will be missed.

    Looking at “Faces,” which was released May 5, 2014, the album hits with a much heavier and powerful tone after Miller’s death. His repeated raps about fatal overdose feel like a fist to the heart in 2019. Miller’s struggles are no longer secrets.

    “Faces” was his follow-up LP after his studio album “Watching Movies With the Lights Off,” in which Miller starts to branch out his basic party/frat-rap, taking risks experimenting with new sounds and unique vibes. Something he’s never done before.

    “Faces” is a staple mixtape, showing maturity in his lyrics and beats and the beginning of his unique psychedelic, jazz rap that he’s so known for today. The LP has very similar vibes to his 2018 album “Swimming” in his beats and in his message. Constant raps about his out of control drug use and the unpredictability of his future are present in both.

    Miller produced about half the songs on this album, while the other half were produced by his features like Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples and Thundercat. The mixtape consists of 24 songs with a running time of 1 hour and 26 minutes.

    The tracks take listeners on a dreamy trip inside the conflicted, drug-filled mind of Miller. The low-key cloudy beats make a nice vibe while Miller’s effortless funky flow and fun wordplay provide ear candy throughout the album.

    Looking deeper into his lyrics shows a man troubled with drugs, obsessed with making music but unsure about the fame he’s receiving, feeling lonely and disconnected from other people and experiencing trouble with his girlfriend, but knowing he can’t change himself.

    The second line of the opening track “Inside Outside” contains “I shoulda died already,” his first reference to his out-of-control drug use. The track’s beat is super chill, but also makes to point to state that he made his fame on his own with his line “I did it all without a Drake feature.”

    His next two tracks have similar lo-fi vibe and boasts his rap game and drug use.

    “Angel Dust,” his fourth track in the LP, provides a psychedelic, hazy vibe as he raps brutally honest lyrics through a perspective of him on drugs.

    “Malibu” follows with a wavy synth, funeral vibes, drug use and suicide references. Miller confesses more and more about his struggles, unsure of where his drug use will take him as he’s just hoping he’ll live the next day with lines like “Check myself into rehab, I might die before I detox” and “At the rate I’m getting high, it’ll be hard for me to find tomorrow. But I just pray that I’ll survive tomorrow.”

    These lines are much heavier listening this time around.

    “Polo Jeans” gives listeners a break with fast, upbeat flow for a more fun song with an Earl Sweatshirt verse that is carefully intricate.

    Miller goes deep into feelings of loneliness and questioning his chase for fame on “Happy Birthday.” Rapping about his “friends” throwing him a huge birthday party when they’re actually using him just for his money so they can party while Miller doesn’t even show. He struggles with feelings of emptiness and hollow fame, wondering if the people he knows really like him or are just using him.

    “Insomniak” (featuring Rick Ross) slaps. The baseline is hard and Miller spits with a chip on his shoulder, feeling himself this track. Rick Ross comes with some basic bragging verses but adds some nice grit to it.

    “Uber” and “Thumbalina” share a psychedelic vibey beat that pulses into your ears, making it almost impossible not to nod your head to the beat.

    “New Faces v2 (featuring Earl Sweatshirt)” carries a meticulously constructed vintage Earl feature with something to prove over a chill but powerful beat.

    Miller finishes the mixtape with “Grand Finale” with a somber tone. The opening verse “And if by chance this is my grand finale, bury me in Allegheny County” references that if he dies in the near future he wants to be buried in his Pittsburgh hometown. His message in this track wants people to know the world will be OK when he goes.

    The LP is an inside look into his personal thoughts at the peak of his drug use. After his tragic death, looking back at albums like “Swimming” – basically his final call for help – and “Faces” puts his lyrics in a light that’s all too real.

    Sipprell can be reached at [email protected].