Jon Brion, who produced the record, explained how it was meant to be the next step in the trilogy after ‘Swimming’, the final album to be released by the rapper before he died from a drug overdose in September 2018.
“He [Mac] had this whole aquatic theme that came out of something we’d talked about when he was working on ‘Swimming’,” he told the New York Times.
“I’d noticed he mentioned water a few times in the lyrics, and then that grew into all these discussions about water and what it sounds like that became kind of a running joke.”
“There were supposed to be three albums: the first, ‘Swimming’, was sort of the hybridisation of going between hip-hop and song form,” Brion said.
“The second, which he’d already decided would be called ‘Circles’, would be song-based. And I believe the third one would have been just a pure hip-hop record. I think he wanted to tell people, ‘I still love this, I still do this.’”
Brion also previously said he believes that Ariana Grande‘s voice makes a secret appearance on one of the record’s tracks. It comes amid growing speculation that Grande – the former girlfriend of the late rapper – can be heard on ‘I Can See’.
In a four-star review of Circles, NME wrote: “Overall, ’Circles’ is a very conflicting listen. It’s a high-quality project, but we lost Mac way too soon, and that’s hard to accept.
“So while it’s hard to listen to him talking about self-deterioration and how he spends far too much time in his own head, it’s a privilege to hear him share his inner most thoughts over a bed of sweeping, inventive sonics. This is the album Mac Miller was born to make.”
A new mural depicting Miller has also appeared in Pittsburgh to coincide with the release of the record.