You may have heard of Mick Jenkins this year with features on Noname’s album Telefone and Chance the Rapper’s discarded Coloring Book song ‘Grown Ass Kid,’ but if you’re not familiar with Mick Jenkins here is a rundown.
Mick Jenkins is a 25 year-old Chicago based rapper. Despite popping up in 2012, he’s had a prolific career with a project at least once a year, his most popular being 2014’s The Water[s] and his 2015 follow-up Wave[s]. He is known for his heavy wordplay and verses interwoven with metaphors, and he manages to deliver raps with his unique style without it being too much of an earful. Usually rapping over a Jazz Era or Chicago Blues style beat, Jenkins produces more vibe songs than bangers.
Mick Jenkin’s debut album “The Healing Component” released on September 23, 2016. The album features an army of collaborators including THEMpeople, Sango, BADBADNOTGOOD, Kaytranada, and others alongside performers including theMIND, Noname, and several others. The album art depicts a human heart, muscles, veins and ventricles all present meant to depict a more accurate version of love. The acronym of The Healing Component spells out THC. Before you jump to conclusions, know that this album is more about love and Jesus than it is about cannabis. Jenkins makes the analogy of marijuana’s healing components to that the healing components of love.
The project starts off with a dialogue between Jenkins and a woman discussing the vagueness of our understanding of love. The conversation carries on throughout the project to guide the listener on the concepts and different types of love. While these dialogues are reminiscent to that of the 1998 album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” overall it fails to leave a big impact.
The first track starts off strong with Jenkins wasting no time. As soon as the first verse ends, the hook starts with loud horns and a chant from Jenkins, akin to a church choir. The next song on the track list is the crux of the project titled ‘Spread Love,’ dominated by a lengthy chorus spaced with two short but great verses by Jenkins over a moody beat. Quite simply, this song is butter, so give it a listen.
‘Drowning,’ featuring BBNG (BADBADNOTGOOD), is one of the strongest tracks on the project. It starts with an eerie, hypnotizing metronome eventually followed up by echoey vocals that linger in your ear. Throughout the track, the instruments from BBNG begin to break loose until finally forming together to make a bittersweet short free jazz track near the four minute mark. The words “I can’t breathe” pops up through most of the song as a reference to Eric Garner and to his 2014 mixtape The Water[s]. What seems like an epilog track, Jenkins is drowning in the water or the truth that he always references.
Around this point in the album, Jenkins starts experimenting with newer sounds on instrumentals with songs like ‘As Seen in Bethsaida’ and ‘Communicate,’ a song that vibes like a neo-soul and house mash up with rap in between.
Although I enjoyed ‘Communicate’ and ‘Plugged,’ at this point in the album I began to disconnect a little from the album. The instrumentals and content weren’t leaving much of an impression. The next couple of songs seem to lose the vibrancy and dynamics of the first half of the album. Most of these songs play on the lower end of the frequency and blend a little too much with Jenkins’ deep vocals. It was difficult for me to distinguish a difference and I eventually began to zone out.
The album wraps up with ‘Angles,’ featuring Noname and Xavier Omar discussing the multiple perspectives of oneself. The last track on the album, titled ‘Fucked Up Outro’ speaks on his journey up to this point in his career. This leaves us in the same position from when we started the album; love is still a vague concept.
Maybe I had hoped to have been hit with some profound revelation or perspective on love, but Jenkins didn’t really introduce anything new to the conversation. I appreciate the positivity and the message of the album, but overall it just fell short on the expectations the first half of the project set up for me. While there was a handful of tracks that I loved, there was about an equal amount that I didn’t care for. Despite the passes, the couple of hits still make the album worth some rotation.
Favorite Tracks: The Healing Component, Spread Love, Drowning, Communicate, Angles
Least Favorite Tracks: 1000 Xans, Prosperity