A Brief Introduction to Mick Jenkins
The Reluctant Voice of Conscious Rap
Hailing from the deep deep south – Alabama to be precise, the Chicago based rapper, Mick Jenkins, has been making a name for himself, and has establish himself as one of the strong voices in Chicago’s vibrant and diverse hip-hop scene. While the locally popular drill and bop music often associated with that city’s rap are visceral expressions of youthful energy, Jenkins’ music is the decidedly cerebral and emotive other side of the same coin.
It might be tempting to throw the conscious label his way, but Jenkins isn’t only concerned with affairs of the heart — he also seeks to motivate as well as make you dance. Jenkins is quick to admit that his favorite music is mostly stuff of the recent past—Sade, Maxwell, and Bilal—with contemporary exceptions made for Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar.
He’s “neo-soul,” he’s “conscious,” he’s proudly antiquated. Mick Jenkins is a thinking fan’s rapper who doesn’t resent mainstream, crossover hip-hop so much as he simply ignores it. As a man who’s averse to popular trends and mainstream hype, Jenkins swears that he doesn’t pay much attention to music blogs, either. (blush)
With the release of The Water(S) Mick Jenkins towers above most of the city’s newcomers, literally and figuratively. Like collaborators Chance the Rapper, Saba, and No Name Gypsy, he’s a product of Chicago’s vibrant poetry scene, and a sharp disciple of a similar lyrical tradition.
Jenkins is a conscientious person, a writer drawn to literary symbolism, punctuating the poetic obliqueness of his bars with barbed truths. His debut, 2013’s jazzy “Trees & Truths“, was loose and indistinct. The improved songcraft of The Water(S) tightens his focus, yet each track feels of a piece, its cohesive sound reflective of the album’s titular metaphor.
“Wave[s]“, a 9 track album, is a brief but potent sample of what Mick Jenkins does best. When it comes to meaningful music, replete with personal truth, his cup runneth over.
The Healing Component
The cover to The Healing Component features the heart as it beats in the human chest. The organ is exposed, precious, vital—only ever a beat away from the end of a life. Jenkins’ album arrives in the backdrop of the shooting death of Terence Crutcher at the hands of police in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Not to mention black men and children killed in Ferguson, Cleveland, New York, Minnesota, and Baton Rouge.
Jenkins broadly pitches love as humanity’s “healing component” as taught to him through scripture. “That’s what Jesus was down here to show us,” he tells an anonymous friend on one of the record’s segues.
Jenkins trades in verses that are easily recognizable, thanks to the Southern drawl that textures his baritone. His words are considered and dichotomous, but it’s the beyond-his-years gravel of his voice that powers songs with extra emotional resonance.