Faces - Mac Miller
Over seven years after its initial release, Mac Miller's Faces has made its commercial debut on services like Spotify and Apple Music. Coming after Mac's critically acclaimed Watching Movies With The Sound Off he was in a transitional point in his career as skill wise WMWTSO was a huge upgrade from his prior work. Several friends of mine recommended Faces to me and I have not listened to it fully until this week because I knew they would remaster and re-release it at some point. So I have given the mixtape a handful of listens but most of it is still brand new to me.
The intro to this cult classic mixtape, Inside Outside has a psychadellic instrumental where there is just so much going on. Mac brings some solid energy but it lacks any real depth or meaning compared to the rest of the album and feels like a lackluster intro. Here We Go however, feels like the real introduction to the tape, from its booming triumphant instrumental to Mac's cocky and proud raps, bragging how he, "did it all without a Drake feature." I love the way Mac is recounting all of his accomplishments here and how he's happy about them, as compared to the songs of the rest of the album this feels like a mere façade. The following track Friends has a boom bap instrumental with some amazing pen game from Mac. He raps about his life and how great, throwing in twisted and depressing bars that occur more and more often as the track progresses. Friends is very demonstrative of the beginning of a downward spiral for Mac.
Following Friends we are immediately thrown into the midst of Mac rapping profusely about his cocaine addiction with Angel Dust. The instrumental is trippy and although I'm not crazy about Mac's chorus it blends really well into the atmosphere of this track. He is unpredictable with his storytelling having bars ranging from outlandishly hilarious to wildly depressing ones. Malibu has another great psychadellic boom bap beat where Mac drops more twisted bars stating he'd "die before he detoxes." He gets deeper with more self deprecating and suicidal lyrics which make this track a chilling listen but depict Mac's mental state perfectly. What Do You Do has a very pyschadellic and atmospheric sound to it. The track is more upbeat, but not really as Mac throws in lighthearted and humorous bars but they always track back to a place of pain and insanity.
It Just Doesn't Matter has a clip playing at the beginning that repetitiously boasts, "It Doesn't Matter!" in a way that could be funny but comes off as nothing short of worrisome, as you know that is what Mac was thinking while making this song. On the latter half of the track Mac is rapping very well with some clever bars and a strong flow. Therapy sounds like a return to KIDS era, charismatic Mac with production that is more reminiscent of Watching Movies With The Sound Off. Mac is flowing swiftly, bragging in his lyrics and sounding like he's having a great time. Therapy is a pretty great track and a nice break from the overly cynical atmosphere. On Polo Jeans we return to Mac rapping about his heavy drug addiction, and his chorus for this track sounds upbeat, while the lyrics are most definitely not. Earl Sweatshirt has an amazing feature where he raps about similar topics and being content with his state of depression, and he fits super well on this spaced out instrumental.
The spacey, psychadellic beat on Happy Birthday is great. Mac keeps up his morbid lyricism, discussing his violent addiction, loneliness and even being killed on this song about being at a birthday party. Sonically this song sounds happy and upbeat but the lyrics themselves are infinitely darker. Wedding has another trippy instrumental, but this one carries a lot of weight to it. Mac raps about a relationship and how he loves this woman. He proceeds to rap about how he wants this woman to help him but in the end it doesn't work out. Funeral has another psychadellic boom bap instrumental where Mac raps about his mental turmoil and how he lives everyday like it's his last. All three of these tracks tell a smaller story together that works into the grand scheme of the album.
Diablo has an amazingly produced boom bap beat with some nice piano keys. Mac's flow is super strong here and he has some great rhymes too. I know this song is held is very high esteem but I think there are seven to ten songs that are a lot better than it. The beat on Ave Maria keeps up the psychadelic sound of the album and Mac delivers some clever bars and funny one liners. He still throws in pretty morbid lines and discusses the repetitiveness of his everyday life and how he wants to escape it. 55 is a great interlude for the album as it is just a hallucinogenic instrumental that has so many different components to it. Mac continues rapping about his self-destructive lifestyle on San Francisco. He tells a story of a crazy acid trip and the instrumental only helps that story feel more real.
Colors and Shapes was released as a single leading up to the rerelease of Faces, and it's easy to see why. It's a slower and more intimate moment on the mixtape as Mac is passionately singing over an unorthodox yet angelic sounding instrumental. He discusses how clouded his mind can be, how he finds knowledge to be a pain causing burden and how he just wants to fall. From the tranquility of Color and Shapes we got to Insomniak, which is a burst of overbearing intensity. The instrumental is lavish and high stakes while Mac raps intently about how great he is and how he's the hardest worker in the game, while managing to incorporate super depressing bars as well. Rick Ross delivers a high energy verse too, which has some funny bars and only makes this fast paced banger even better. The following track, Uber is a return to the psychadellic soundscape that Mac has created where Mac gives a great verse with some super dynamic flows. His outlandish but genius lyricism is still present and Mike Jones adds a pretty great verse to the mix as well.
Vince Staples' feature on Rain is incredible; He has a crisp flow and some of the best lyricism I've ever heard from him. The instrumental is lively and upbeat and Mac once again raps about the same topics in this spacey environment he has created. Apparition's instrumental is clouded but progressive and Mac continues to dive deep into his addiction and depression which he seems to never escape. Thumbalina is a return to the boastful, disrespectful and energetic Mac we know from his early work. The beat is super bouncy and fun, while Mac goes from being rude and zany to moments of complete morbidity and oddity. It is a super fun song but also kind of messy.
New Faces v2 has an incredible instrumental pulled straight from Earl Sweatshirt's world, which is fitting for him to deliver one of the best verses on the album. He brings high energy, swift flows and some amazing wordplay and overall lyricism. Ka$h's feature is pretty great but nowhere near as good as Earl or Mac, who both are so great on this track. Grand Finale is the perfect end to this long, twisted and drug filled journey that it feels like we took with Mac. The instrumental is great, Mac is wild and unpredictable and it feels like he wrote it as it could've been the last track he ever released. The bonus track, Yeah, is just as incredible as the whole album. The instrumental is layered so well and so much emotion is conveyed through it. Mac's singing is depressing but it is even more powerful and everything about this song just evokes feelings from the listener.
Despite it being a mixtape that was only on places like SoundCloud and Datpiff for over half a decade, the production is undeniably incredible, and some of Mac's best. Not only that but this is his best rapped album he's ever put out, and his lyricism is brilliant as well. The album has a grim, twisted and sometimes insane atmosphere that is built and Faces feels far more like something we experience with Mac himself than just a mixtape. However it is a little too long, where no songs are bad, but some songs add nothing and make the tape unnecessarily long. With this album essentially being Mac's experiences with addiction and depression, and him attempting to get us to experience what he experiences daily, there's not doubt it is cohesively solid and thematically amazing. Despite being hidden from the general public for so long, Faces is on the higher end of Mac's discography.