Mac Miller’s Faces comes to streaming

The remastered project has its quirks and differences, but it’s still Mac

Over seven years after its release on Mother’s Day 2014, Mac Miller’s Faces has come to streaming services. The initial tape saw a free release via DatPiff, but this remaster via the family estate has brought about a version that is different, not better. Along with the remaster is a short film, a handful of animated music videos, and an officially pressed vinyl.

To put Faces in a box is the wrong way to write this article. The main differences sonically between this Faces and the original are slight. In terms of mixing, 2014’s Faces had a bit of a static-like quality to many of the tracks and sometimes had Miller’s voice low in the mix of his songs. This version sees most of the tracks adjusted to bring Miller’s vocals to the forefront, along with tweaked instrumentals. A good example of these changes can be observed on “New Faces v2.” On the latest release, the drum loop begins much earlier than it does in the initial release.

Part of what made Faces such a revered project amongst fans was the use of various samples in the original release. Having released it for free and not profit, Miller was able to use an abundance of samples throughout the project without needing to pay the originators to license their use. With the re-release, many fans were expecting most of the samples to be butchered or removed, which is only mildly the case.

Some of the samples that were kept were those on “Here We Go” and “Diablo.” The sample used in “Here We Go” was a paraphrased speech from a 2005 movie, Kingdom of Heaven. Another sample which was retained was the interpolation of Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood.” This sample is the heart of the beat in “Diablo”, so it was only right that it stayed.

Some samples that were cut from this remaster of Faces were those from the original versions of “Wedding,” “Funeral,” and “Grand Finale.” Whether it was a money or a licensing issue, this remaster saw the removal of multiple audio clips. Namely, a clip of a Charles Bukowski interview, a passage from a Hunter S. Thompson interview, and a clip from the 1980 film, Where the Buffalo Roam.

While these are not a big deal overall, they did play big roles in furthering the segue from one track to another throughout the project. Although they will be missed, having the mixtape on streaming is bigger than a few samples that didn’t make it (though hardcore fans will probably maintain their position that the underground version is superior). 

One major difference between the original Faces and this re-release is the addition of “Yeah,” a five-minute bonus track that was not available on the 2014 DatPiff release. The track originally leaked in December 2019 under the name “8:21 AM.” The song itself is a haunting slow burner that rifles through nihilism and existentialism over a simple beat. While Miller never had a fantastic vocal range, this song may just be one of his strongest vocal performances, if not the best.

Remastering Faces is not going to be detrimental to a legacy that was already solidified. It would be easy to write this off as a money grab, but that is not accurate to everything that the estate has done after Miller’s death. Money has been spent on remastering the project well, and on producing and creating music videos and the short film that had no necessity to be made.

Without a doubt, this tape being more widely available will make sure that it finds its way to new listeners. At its core, this re-release is for the fans, and even if it isn’t perfect, it’s an acknowledgement to those that still love his music.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam


The Class of ’11: hip hop’s last great draft year

A decade on, the genre’s then-rookies have continued to have a lasting impact with several remaining in hip hop’s upper echelon.

When sports fans discuss the greatest draft classes of all time, there are a few that are a necessary inclusion on any list. Whether it be the ’96 NBA draft class, the ’83 NFL draft class or the ’03 NHL draft class, the best ones see a high volume of players go on to become all-time greats within their respective leagues.

In hip hop, while there’s no official “draft” per se, one can still apply that logic to the crop of new artists in a given year and look at the impact they’ve had since entering the game. When you take that into account, it’s clear to see that some of these “draft classes” are stronger than others, but none in recent memory are stronger than the class of 2011.

Now, due to the lack of an objective drafting process, selecting the rappers from this class is based solely on which artists had their breakthrough moments, either albums or singles, in 2011. When looking at these moments, the focus isn’t necessarily on mainstream success, but moments in which they gained considerable notoriety within their respective lanes in the genre.

For example, we can look at artists like Danny Brown who, while swimming in critical acclaim for the last decade or so, may not have the sales figures of a major label artist with a big budget. Regardless, he’s been one of hip hop’s most consistent artists of the last decade, with project after project finding their home on a multitude of album of the year lists, starting with 2011’s XXX. The project is incredibly unique and introspective, and while it wasn’t his debut, it was the first to put Brown in the spotlight, bringing him near-universal acclaim and showing his potential to become one of the genre’s all-time greats.

Similarly, Tyler, the Creator has found his way on many of those lists in recent years as well, following excellent releases like Flower Boy and IGOR. His emergence on the scene in 2011 came as the cockroach-eating shock rapper in the “Yonkers” video, which was one of hip hop’s biggest moments that year. The video went viral and, while his debut album Goblin wasn’t as well-received by critics as his 2009 mixtape Bastard was, it did help to build a cult-like following for the young artist and his group Odd Future. Ten years on, Tyler is now a Grammy winner and one of hip hop’s most prominent and adventurous figures, who’s become revered by both fans and critics alike for his development and experimental nature.

That growth and willingness to take risks is one of the ways that artists ensure longevity and continued success in the industry, and another 2011 draft pick who embodied that growth and progress was the late, great, Mac Miller. Now it’s arguable that 2010 would be Mac’s rookie season so to speak, with his first big mixtape K.I.D.S. dropping that year. However, Mac not only dropped a well-received mixtape in 2011 with Best Day Ever, but he also released his first platinum single “Donald Trump” as well as his debut album Blue Slide Park, which went on to debut at number one on the Billboard 200, the first independent debut to do so since 1995. From that point until his tragic passing in 2018, Miller grew from a traditional rapper to a multi-faceted, genre-blending artist whose creative output grew more and more unique with each subsequent release, becoming one of his generation’s most important voices.

Each generation of music has its defining artists in each genre – The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Prince, etc. and there aren’t many talents that define this generation of hip hop more than Kendrick Lamar. In 2011, Kendrick released his debut album Section.80 to heaps of praise from critics, gaining notability from fans and fellow artists alike, leading to his eventual signing with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath record label.

The album jump-started what has become one of hip hop’s most impressive and consistent discographies, with his next three albums all receiving platinum and multi-platinum certifications, massive critical acclaim, several Grammy wins and even a Pulitzer Prize. Kendrick has gone on to become an all-time great that many people consider to be a top 5-10 talent in the genre’s history, one of music’s most important voices today – proving himself to be the MVP of the 2011 draft class in the process.

This is no small feat, as the class includes not only the artists mentioned above but also acts like Future, Meek Mill, Big K.R.I.T., YG, 2 Chainz, A$AP Rocky, Frank Ocean and The Weeknd, to name a few — all of whom have a presence that’s still felt today. It’s a group so absolutely stacked with talent that its impact is undeniable and hasn’t even come close to being duplicated since. 2011’s roster is one that represents a special time in hip hop, one that has gone on to shape the genre since.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam


Revisiting Mac Miller’s Faces – a mixtape ahead of its time

Mac Miller’s 2014 opus isn’t available to stream, but it sure is worth the download on DatPiff.

Six years after its release, Faces is still Mac Miller’s pièce de résistance. The 2014 mixtape came out during an interim period between Miller’s tenure with Rostrum Records and his subsequent signing with Warner Records. Following his sophomore album, Watching Movies with the Sound Off, Miller was making music at lightspeed. His projects, You, Delusional Thomas and Faces are a fraction of the projects that Mac released after 2012’s Macadelic. Miller was not shy about his work ethic as he proclaimed on his track, “Malibu,” “I’m recordin’ like I’ll die tomorrow.”

Having ditched Rostrum Records, Miller showcased his freedom by fleshing out his Larry Fisherman alter ego, producing 14 out of 24 tracks on the project himself. As mentioned by Miller over the course of his career, most of the songs on this tape segue from one into the next in an attempt to leave the project as a start-to-finish listening experience. Using production play and sample cuts from movies, classic jazz and famous writers alike, the tape draws from a variety of sources of inspiration. Faces features a variety of guest appearances, most notably Thundercat, Earl Sweatshirt, and Vince Staples.

Faces has no shortage of dark, funny, and borderline terrifying lyrics. On some tracks Mac is singing his own praises, other tracks see him joking around with his friends, on “What Do You Do” he’s alluding to his own demise (“A drug habit like Philip Hoffman will probably put me in a coffin.”). This tape has no shortage of drug references, whether it’s PCP, LSD, or referring to cocaine as “the same shit that got Whitney,” Faces is an unadulterated view into Miller’s drug infested lifestyle at the time. His bars don’t sugar coat any of it, making this tape some of Mac’s most candid and soul-bearing work.

At the midway point in the album, Mac presents a trio of songs named after celebrations, “Happy Birthday,” “Wedding” and “Funeral.” Each one segueing into the next, the trio tells three separate tales of introspection going from an upbeat yet depressing birthday party, to a failed love story, ending with “Funeral,” where Miller admits, “Doin’ drugs is just a war with boredom but they sure to get me.”

The closing track, “Grande Finale” serves as the conclusion to the tape’s winding road of cocaine-induced delirium and wide range of sonic experimentation. The closing track sheds some closure as Miller admits his habits could kill him, as they eventually did. In an interview with Billboard, Miller admitted that “‘Grand Finale’ was supposed to be the last song I made on earth.”

From top to bottom, Faces is a complete body of work that takes listeners on a journey narrated by Miller. Coming in at a lengthy 86 minutes, this project isn’t necessarily the type of album you’d sit down and listen to start-to-finish, but the road that Miller navigates with Faces has something for everyone to appreciate. Whether it’s the snappy back and forth with Vince Staples on “Rain” or the psychedelic trip that is “Colors and Shapes,” this tape covers a variety of bases and still finds a way to be some of Mac’s best work lyrically and production-wise.


Mac Miller, Circles, and the art of the posthumous release

The late rapper’s estate successfully delivers a carefully crafted and complete posthumous effort.

The posthumous album is one of the most conflicting listening experiences any music fan can have. The motive behind the release isn’t always clear: the music might be unfinished, the quality may be lacking, and you can’t help but think about whether the artist would have wanted it released. Musicians put their life into their work, and in the unfortunate event that they pass, who their music is left to can majorly affect their legacy––either positively or poorly.

In September 2018, Mac Miller tragically passed away at the age of 26, leaving the music world in shock. His impact on hip hop was enormous, as he played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of the genre through the 2010s. In using his platform to bring light to many up-and-coming artists, Miller played a major part in the budding careers of Vince Staples, Earl Sweatshirt, and many more.

While his platform helped to give these artists exposure, they also helped him find himself musically––throughout his career, Miller showed an astonishing level of growth. With each project released, he moved further and further from being the youthful stoner that was trying to fit into archetypal hip hop traditions laid out by his influences. Towards the end, Miller was working towards creating a sound and style that was entirely his own.

With 2016’s The Divine Feminine he took a chance, releasing a full-length project that relied on his singing as much as his rapping. Infusing neo-soul instrumentation with modern hip hop, the release’s sound was fresh for Miller and showed his desire to evolve as an artist. This was doubled down on with the release of 2018’s Swimming, leaving behind his neo-soul influences for a more varied and eclectic soundscape. These two projects showed Miller heading in a direction less concerned with fitting in, and more concerned with personal and artistic growth.

Circles builds off of the foundation laid out by these two albums and on Miller’s legacy while taking his music in a slightly different direction. Serving as a companion album to the aforementioned Swimming, producer and multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion worked to complete what he and Miller had started. The result is a mesmerizing album, that is extremely melancholic, yet instrumentally lush and gorgeous, and features some of Miller’s most personal writing and best singing.

While Miller isn’t a classically trained vocalist, that had always been a part of his charm. His ability to capture the emotions present in his lyrics through his limited vocal range humanized him as a singer and makes him more relatable. It’s less a spectacle of ability and more about being able to feel what he conveys vocally.

Lyrically, this album sees Miller painting a picture of a man who is not only dealing with his personal struggles but optimistically accepting them as part of his life and trying to move on. The theme of Circles, however, appears to be his acknowledgement of the cyclical nature of his struggles, and how they keep coming back around. At times, despite Miller’s seemingly optimistic view, he speaks on his own personal downfall as an inevitability, which is heartbreaking to hear in the wake of his passing.

It’s apparent that this was an album that was well on its way to completion when Miller passed. There is a clear vision here, a cohesive soundscape throughout, and consistent lyrical themes that bring the project together. The album plays like one last goodbye from an old friend—a long, warm and bittersweet hug from somebody that you’re not quite ready to let go of yet.

This is where this album shines; and where many posthumous albums fall short. In recent years, with the unfortunate passing of several young artists, we’ve seen a lot of posthumous releases that seem like nothing but a cash grab. XXXTentacion’s last project, Bad Vibes Forever, was a colossal mess of a project. At 25 tracks long, it was bloated with features and filled with incomplete song ideas rather than fully fleshed-out tracks. The artist’s vision and fan enjoyment were secondary, with the primary concern being maximizing streaming revenue.

In the case of Circles, Miller’s estate has given an example of how to handle the music and legacy of an artist after they’ve passed. It is an album with very little promotion, it’s free of gimmicks or radio-ready singles, has no big features, and the sound isn’t all that familiar for fans. It’s a complete, concise and focused artistic expression of a man who is seemingly learning to accept his internal struggles and grow from them. The album pulls no punches creatively, and that’s what makes it so special.

Circles feels like the full realization of the sound that Miller had been trending towards for a few years now. It’s brilliant, beautifully arranged and emotionally gripping music that gives us a glimpse into where he was mentally, prior to his passing. It’s very apparent that Jon Brion and Miller’s estate understood his vision, and they’ve clearly worked very carefully to bring it to fruition and carry on his legacy. As hard as it is to say goodbye, this is a superb send-off for one of the most important and impactful rappers of this generation.

Rating: 9/10

Trial Track: “Blue World”

Graphic by


Fentanyl still killing our favourite artists

Mac Miller should be remembered for his honesty and talent – not his death

Mac Miller shouldn’t be the subject of your addiction jokes. Following the arrest of Cameron James Pettit on Sept. 4, Twitter came to life as fans lauded the arrest, while others took this as a golden opportunity to mock drug addiction and its victims.

Arresting one dealer won’t actually change anything, though. While Petitt may or may not have been complicit in lacing the drugs given to Miller, the problem lies in the production and overall distribution of fentanyl-laced drugs. On Aug. 29, the largest federal fentanyl and heroin seizure in Delaware took place with authorities finding more than 14,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills. Even if Pettit never sold drugs, someone else would have taken his place and sold the laced drugs regardless.

Still, even with an obvious crisis at hand, people make light of addiction claiming that the simple solution is to ‘stop taking drugs.’ Like many things, it isn’t that easy.

YouTuber Shawn Cee wrote a lengthy series of tweets detailing how his brief stint in the hospital for lung surgery nearly killed him because of a nurse’s misuse of prescription drugs. He also explained how, upon his release, he saw numerous dealers outside the hospital looking to sell cheap counterfeit prescription drugs to patients. These patients believe the prescribed amount of medication isn’t enough for them to feel their effects, so they look for cheaper alternatives elsewhere.

Miller was transparent about his drug use, making it clear that he craved the high on songs like “Jet Fuel” off his last full-length album, Swimming. The entire project saw a depressed and struggling Miller trying to cope with his mental illness through the use of alcohol and drugs, but at no point did it ever come across as a suicidal album. He never alluded to taking his own life. Despite being a somber LP, Miller sprinkled it with hope all across its 13 tracks.

Mac Miller was afflicted with addiction, but make no mistake, it was fentanyl that killed him. The incredibly strong and potent drug only requires small amounts to take a person’s life. In the United States especially, the government has struggled to keep up with this crisis. Without proper universal healthcare and a lack of necessary tools available to test drugs, the problem is only getting worse and more widespread as Canada is also experiencing a crisis of our own.

Fentanyl is arguably the most dangerous drug available right now – and it’s often not known when it’s being consumed as a dangerous additive. In fact, the Canadian government warns that the fentanyl test strips aren’t 100 per cent conclusive and that test results should be taken with a grain of salt.

As the one year anniversary of Mac Miller’s haunting death approaches, it is more important than ever to understand that fentanyl is one of the biggest drug related issues plaguing North America. While fentanyl addiction is necessarily the culprit, addiction to drugs such as cocaine, xanax and oxycodone opens the door for many accidental overdoses to occur.

If you struggle with addiction, please visit for more info on how to get help.

Additionally, Naloxone, Fentanyl’s antidote, is available in many Quebec pharmacies for free.


Photo by J. Emilio Flores


QUICKSPINS: Mac Miller – Swimming

Artist: Mac Miller

Album: Swimming

Label: Warner Bros. Records


In early August 2018, one month before his untimely passing, Mac Miller released his fifth studio album, Swimming. Almost two years since his previous release, Miller returned with his most complete body of work. His last major release, The Divine Feminine, painted a picture of Miller in love and happier than ever. In stark contrast, Swimming is Miller at his loneliest, most troubled, and introspective.

This album delves deeply into his mental state, substance abuse problems and heartbreak, while highlighting the anguish that follows. His reflection on these experiences comes across as wise and extremely self-aware, sounding like a man at peace with his reality. Even in its lighter moments, such as with the funk-infused, Thundercat-assisted jam “What’s the Use?,” Miller is still dealing with his demons. At its darkest, Swimming tells the tale of a man wounded, drowning in a sea of self-doubt, self-meditation and self-medication.

The album’s strongest moment, “2009,” is gorgeous, starting off with a swell of violins that lead into a beautiful piano loop. Lyrically, Miller reflects on his career and his journey, from his breakout mixtape, to 2018. Miller’s career was one to behold. From stoner-friendly frat rapper to one of the most diverse and talented people in hip hop, his growth was astounding. With every release, he got better and better. Swimming is Mac Miller’s best album and one of the best albums of 2018.

Rating: 9.5/10

Trial Track: “2009”

Star Bar: “You gotta jump in to swim

Well, the light was dim in this life of sin

Now every day I wake up and breathe

I don’t have it all but that’s alright with me”

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Mac Miller – Watching Movies with the Sound Off

Mac Miller is the writer, and Watching Movies with the Sound Off is his diary.

Released in 2013, Miller’s sophomore album delves deep into the MC’s mind, uncovering his struggles with fame, addiction and love.

From prescription painkillers, to the infamous cocktail known as lean, he raps about attempting to fight off his dependance on said substances, though he explains that he knew about the dangers they hold.

Through calculated, hard-hitting bars, Miller effortlessly flows over every beat, as though he could do it in his sleep.. Fitting that on the second track, “Avian”, he raps “Feel like I do this in my sleep/Literally, I do this in my sleep.”

The 19-track project features diverse instrumentals with a wide variety of sounds, demonstrating Miller’s affinity for musical creativity. From the spacey piano and string duo on “Avian” produced by the rapper himself, to the classic boom-bap beat on “Red Dot Music,” Watching Movies with the Sound Off is far from a predictable hip hop tape.

While Miller undoubtedly gave so much to hip-hop, we must appreciate our favourite artists while they are still here, creating music for us all.


R.I.P. Mac Miller


Trial Track: “Avian”

Exit mobile version