As a Pittsburgh native, I feel like it’s my duty to dedicate a piece solely to Mac Miller. Over the past year, I’ve really fallen into his discography; I’m at the point where I scour the internet as I search for some of Mac’s unreleased music. Mac is one of the few artists that I can enjoy on repeat. His music is truly special and I’m so glad I was introduced to it.
The vast majority of the world knows and loves Mac as the man behind “The Spins,” but there are countless other hidden gems scattered throughout his albums, mixtapes and singles. I’ve listened to all of his released music and I don’t think I’ve been disappointed once. With that being said, choosing ten of Mac’s songs for this article was incredibly difficult. I didn’t even bother ranking them in any sort of hierarchy. There’s no way I can commit to such a daunting task. Without further ado: here are 10 of my favorite Mac Miller songs of all time.
It’s only fair that we start where it all began: “K.I.D.S.” Well, not really. It all began in 2007 with Mac’s debut mixtape “But My Mackin’ Aint Easy,” but I won’t get into those details. If you scan through Mac’s discography on Spotify or Apple Music, you won’t see much of anything from before “K.I.D.S.” because his first few mixtapes were self-released. After signing with Rostrum Records, 18-year-old Mac Miller released “K.I.D.S.” kicking off his big time rapping career. If you’re a first-time listener, “K.I.D.S.” is the best place to start.
From start to finish, “K.I.D.S.” is an absolute masterpiece to me. It’s really difficult to pick a favorite, especially with gems like “Senior Skip Day,” “The Spins” and “Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza” in the mix. Honorable mentions aside: “Ayye” is one of my favorite Mac songs of all time. The energy is simply unmatched and it never fails to put me in a good mood. I can’t believe this song was kept in the vault for so long. “Ayye” wasn’t originally featured on “K.I.D.S.,” it first debuted on the deluxe version of the album, released 10 years after. I really love Mac’s earlier music. It’s spunky, youthful and fun. I’m always happy to hear some young Mac. Anyways, I think he really hit it out of the park with this one.
- “Wear my Hat”
Mac’s next mixtape, “Best Day Ever” was released less than a year after “K.I.D.S.” despite Mac’s busy year full of sold-out shows while touring. This mixtape is probably my favorite of Mac’s. Among “Best Day Ever”‘s fantastic lineup is the hit “Wear My Hat.” This one is a classic that will never be skipped if I have anything to say about it. The music video sits at over 24,000,000 views on YouTube, so this song is an obvious fan favorite.
- “Objects in the mirror”
Skipping ahead in the discography, we land at Mac’s second studio album “Watching Movies with the Sound Off.” Not my favorite album, but one of my favorite songs is settled within the lineup. As I began listening to Mac Miller, I focused primarily on the mixtapes. His earliest work was more appealing to me. When I finally ventured beyond the works of his early career, I found myself absolutely enthralled by his song “Objects in the Mirror.” This song definitely shifted my perspective and really demonstrated artistic growth on Mac’s part. “Objects in the Mirror” makes me feel nostalgic, comforted and slightly lovesick all at once. “Objects in the Mirror” is quite literally an allusion to what’s to come on his later albums like “Swimming” or “Circles.” For me, “Watching Movies with the Sound Off” was an absolutely game-changing, perspective-shifting album for Mac Miller. It would be unfair if I didn’t include at least one song in my top 10.
- “Break the Law”
Next up is one of my favorites: “Break the Law,” featured on his third studio album “GO:OD AM.” There’s an energy the Mac brings to this song and I am all for it. At the time of its release, a lot of fans thought “Break the Law” sounded like a bit of a style shift for Mac. I can agree. In multiple interviews, Mac mentioned that he never wanted to release the same album twice. I really appreciate his unique approach to music. “GO:OD AM” can definitely throw you for a loop but it’s an enjoyable listen nonetheless. While you’re on the album, I definitely recommend giving “100 Grandkids” and “Brand Name” a listen as well. He definitely pulled out all the stops with this album, which is fair considering it was his first release with the big-name Warner Records.
- “BDE BONUS”
I hate to play absolute favorites but “BDE Bonus” holds a special, special place in my heart. I’ll never forget the first time I heard it. It was the summer before I started college and my friend and I were driving around the city. She was on the aux in my car. She played the live version of “BDE Bonus” and I was hooked. This song makes me feel alive in ways that I cannot explain. Though this song is the exact same lyrically as the mixtape’s intro, “Best Day Ever,” “BDE Bonus” is the superior version in my head. The stylistic changes are icing on the cake; an already great song was simply made better.
I don’t know what it is about this song, but I think it’ll be one of my favorite songs for a long time. I want “BDE Bonus” played at my wedding, when I have kids — hell, they can play it at my funeral for all I care. “BDE Bonus” is truly that good.
Finally, I’ve worked my way up to Mac’s later music. “Dunno,” found on Mac’s fifth studio album entitled “Swimming,” is one of my favorite chill songs. I really love seeing an artist approach music from different angles. Mac goes above and beyond, embracing rap, R&B and hip-hop all while putting various spins on each genre. I think he dips into a contemporary R&B genre with “Dunno,” but classify it as you will, it doesn’t matter to me. Genre aside, I think “Dunno” is a track straight from heaven. Absolute music to my ears.
Mac’s sixth studio album “Circles” was released two years after Mac’s death. This album was created as a companion to its predecessor “Swimming.” Despite the posthumous release, the album was well-received by Macheads and music lovers everywhere. “Circles” debuted at number three on Billboard 200 with his single “Good News” also earning a spot on the Hot 100 list. I found myself really happy with this album, especially the song “Surf.” I love how Mac can sing and rap. He really utilized this album to tap into his singing voice a bit more. Songs like “Surf” make me wonder what kind of music Mac would be putting out there today; I could’ve definitely predicted some more of this contemporary psuedo-pop/R&B in his future.
- “Grand Finale”
I never bothered listening to Mac’s mixtape “Faces” until it was released on Apple Music this past year. I had seen it on SoundCloud, but it didn’t really catch my attention. “Faces” is probably the deepest, darkest, most personal work that Mac ever made. The storyline is a lot to work through considering “Faces”‘ impressive runtime of 1 hour and 31 minutes. For me, “Grand Finale” is a huge standout on this album. This album explores life and death in great detail. “Grand Finale” opens with “And if by chance, this is my grand finale / bury me in Allegheny County”. I always appreciate a good shout out to the ‘Burgh and Mac is no stranger. He’s dedicated songs, merchandise and even an album title to Pittsburgh.
Finally, a single. Mac’s “Buttons” was released in 2018 after a two year hiatus following the release of “The Divine Feminine.” I think this was “Buttons” was the perfect way to ease back into music production for Mac. Following the release of a trio of singles (“Buttons, “Small Worlds” and “Programs”), Mac released “Swimming.” “Buttons” was a really cool bridge from “The Divine Feminine” to “Swimming.” Listening to “The Divine Feminine” is a totally different experience compared to any of his earlier albums. For the first time, Mac really adopts a softer persona and embraces his singing voice. The release of “Buttons,” “Small Worlds,” “Programs” and finally his album “Swimming” follow the same vibe. I really love “Buttons” and aura surrounding it. Can songs have auras? Who knows. Never mind that. Moral of the story: “Buttons” is a great listen. Enjoy it.
- “Perfect Circle / GodSpeed”
Last but not least is Mac’s “Perfect Circle / God Speed” from “GO:OD AM.” This nearly eight minute song has been one of my favorites from the start. Mac explains that he never releases the same song twice, but wow, this song really has something unique. I can’t even explain it. Give it a listen.
Any song by Mac is a good one. Seriously, I don’t think his entire discography yields a single disappointing song. If you’re looking for some new stuff, Mac’s mixtape “I Love Life, Thank You” just dropped on all streaming platforms. Enjoy, Macheads.