Three years after the passing of Mac Miller his 2014 LP “Faces” has arrived on all major streaming services. Originally created and released in 2014, “Faces” was seemingly lost due to numerous sample clearance issues around the mixtape. Loaded with features and a 2010 rap feel, Mac Miller lays everything out with jazzy melodies while discussing his struggles with drugs, mortality and anxiety.
“Faces” is Mac’s darkest project, yet also one of his most widely loved projects. He gives an honest perspective to the listener and doesn’t hold anything back. With the first lyrics in the song being “I should’ve died already,” this album wasn’t made to be a chart-topper. This album captures the struggle and journey of Mac back to Malcolm.
On the first track “Inside Out,” Mac talks about his drug use and how he spent most of his time on the inside focused on making music and developing his art while watching the world and trying to explain his life. Mac’s studio, the Sanctuary, is where he spent most of his time during the Faces era, literally locking himself in the studio and honing his craft.
In “Here We Go,” Mac lays out his success and newfound wealth and contrasts himself with other rappers who spend their first “real” checks on features from other rappers or new chains. The last line of the first and second verse end in relatively the same way of “I did it all without a Drake feature” and “I did it all without a Jay feature.” Not only is Mac saying he never paid for his features, but that Drake is actually the one who paid for the Jay-Z feature.
“Friends” is the next song and is mostly self-explanatory. Mac raps about his crazy life and rise to fame, but makes sure to give credit to the ones that always stood by his side. The next song, however, contrasts “Friends” and more focuses on a low point of heavy drug use in Miller’s life with a fitting title of “Angel Dust.” This song starts with an intro representing Mac doing a line of PCP, or angel dust, and through the song he talks about his high and comedown to the eventual end of the song where he begs himself to stay away from the drug.
On “Malibu,” the next track of the album, Mac touches on his drug use again, yet this time centered around his struggles with weed, cocaine, ecstasy and other intoxicants. Mac raps about the insane amount of drugs in his system and lets his fans know that even though he may die before he can detox, he did it for them.
Fast forward a few tracks into “Therapy,” where Mac discusses that his personal form of therapy was often just living a full life no matter how he was feeling emotionally and regardless of whether he was getting his fulfillment from drugs, women, houses, cars or in this case music. Mac doesn’t claim this to be a perfect method of self-care, but rather poses a question to the listener of what does it feel to be around someone like him?
“Polo Jeans” features Earl Sweatshirt, and he and Mac rap about how critical critics are of anything musicians put out. Regardless of the social status of rappers, critics belittle, berate and continuously humiliate them. The sample on this song is from the movie “Gummo,” and Earl and Mac chose this sample because they empathized with the “rabbit” being terrorized in the movie.
Following this track is “Happy Birthday,” where Mac takes the listener on a descriptive experience of a birthday party for a largely famous rapper. The first verse discusses the amount of people gathering at a party to only party rather than celebrate the person present. He then touches on small talk with a guest in the second verse before flying off on a tangent in the third verse discussing what really interests him, like finding meaning intertwined within the strange parts of his life.
“Diablo” is one of my favorite songs on this album and Mac actually produced the beat himself under his producer pseudonym Larry Fisherman. Mac showcases his lyricism and how he takes on the persona of a devil on this track to symbolize how the constant scrutiny and criticism has changed Mac from the happy go lucky kid in 2010 to the now darker, drug abusing rapper he is throughout the “Faces” era.
“Ave Maria,” “Insomniak,” “Thumbalina” and the final “Yeah” bonus track are all other standout songs that I have been listening to consistently from the album. This album and journey of Mac’s struggles in life set the stage for the next album chronologically, “GOOD:AM,” where Mac was able to get a breath of fresh air and start a new chapter in his life.
“Faces” isn’t just another rap album for Mac Miller. It is a journey into the bizarre mind of Mac during this dark time in his life. Mac said it best on “Here We Go” with the line “ain’t little Malcom with the baby face” and it’s not. He transformed the adversity he faced into his personal form of art — music.
I never got to meet Mac, but I felt like I lost a close friend when he died. I’m glad to see “Faces” has finally reached streaming services for everyone to hear as well as to be united with the rest of his discography. This is one of my favorite Mac Miller projects and this album is a 9/10 for me.
Rest in peace Mac.