Warner Bros. Records

Mac Miller has been through it in 2018. In May, he went through a public breakup with his ex-lover and collaborator Ariana Grande, who he dated for two years. That same month, he was arrested on drunk driving and hit-and-run charges. The series of unfortunate events suggested an star whose personal life was spiraling. Yet the best art often stems from turmoil. Mac Miller’s new Swimming album—a culmination of pent-up emotions—is no exception to the rule.

Album intro “Come Back to Earth” puts Mac’s intense internal dialog on display. “My regrets look just like texts I shouldn't send/And I got neighbors, they're more like strangers/We could be friends/I just need a way out of my head/I'll do anything for a way out of my head,” he rhymes over a melancholy beat co-produced by Jon Brion. Throughout the album, he seems to rap for those who ail from depression and anxiety. On the J. Cole-produced “Hurt Feelings,” Mac vents about his battle with substance abuse and a necessary social media hiatus following his breakup. After expressing alcohol-induced musings in “What’s The Use?,” he continues to rehash the painful details of the worst days of his depressive state in “Perfecto,” on which he admits that his ex “put me back together when I’m out of order.”

Mac Miller's climb to mental exoneration continues as he spends time recalling and reflecting on his past mistakes. Midway through the album, somber songs like “Conversation Pt. 1” give a glimpse into Mac’s missteps while others like “Dunno” directly address everything he misses about his ex, from hearing her songs to her coughing from his high-grade weed. He’s self-aware. On “Small Worlds,” he raps over desolate guitar riffs and dismal piano keys: “I might trip, I never fall/God knows I've came close (don't try this at home)/I know I probably need to do better, fuck whoever/Keep my shit together/You never told me being rich was so lonely/Nobody know me, oh well/Hard to complain from this five-star hotel.”

Swimming shows personal growth. He remains diligent about his healing process and pushes through his internal grapple (See: “Wings” and “Ladders”). On "2009," he comes to terms with his newfound belief in God, the fact that money doesn’t buy happiness, and everything else he’s learned since his The High Life days.

Swimming merges enlightening, candid rhymes over funky beats, providing a transparent look at how Mac Miller hit a personal rock bottom and his vigorous climb to save himself. —Tony Centeno

Here Are the Best Projects Released From 104 Past and Present XXL Freshmen