Release Date: Aug 21, 2015
Record label: Cinematic
Genre(s): Rap, Underground Rap, Left-Field Hip-Hop
Chicago-via-Huntsville rapper Mick Jenkins was a conspicuously missing name from the Social Experiment’s Surf this year, considering the breezy float of traditional easy-listening instruments that emanated from his 2014 breakthrough mixtape, The Water(s); he even named a single “Jazz,” wherein he shouts out Count Basie and Dave Brubeck. His impressive Jenga stacks of syllables are less speedy and more leaden than Chance the Rapper, but Jenkins’ flow is more basso and spittle-flecked, reminiscent of the long-lost fellow Chi-Town rapper Rhymefest if he came up in the cloud. On The Water(s) and previous singles, there was a hint of condescension; Jenkins mimicked hometown antihero Chief Keef in the “Martyrs” video with a noose around his throat in lieu of a chain.
Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins manages to balance absurdity with realism and focus with exploration on his latest release. Recognized as one of the most promising young lyricists on the come-up, the 24-year-old rapper's long-anticipated nine-track mixtape is stuffed with buoyancy and vibrant lyricism. It also signifies a shift in focus for the expressive phenom, which his persistent fan base may not have been anticipating.After making a decision to take a break from the heavy concepts and social agenda of his acclaimed breakout mixtape The Water[s], Jenkins taps into a more sensual and experimental lane here, romping with melody while tackling newfangled relationship-based topics.
Chicago-based rapper Mick Jenkins is fascinated by form, or more specifically, how form can be used as an allegory for things that are difficult to grasp. He makes abstract theories on existence palpable by relating them to tangible materials, and big concepts get repackaged as physical substances. His 2013 mixtape, Trees & Truths, focused on how topics viewed as truths are affected by “the trees,” or smoking weed.
Mick Jenkins' sophomore tape The Water(s) stood apart in a competitive Chicago scene. With a resonant baritone that telegraphed masculine authority, Jenkins jumped from not mentioned at all to one of his city's most promising rookie candidates. He combined an ear for poetic language with a principled consciousness and a no-bullshit persona, a formula which quickly snowballed into a substantial underground fanbase.
Mick Jenkins is every high school English teacher’s favorite rapper (save, of course, for the aptly-named Honors English). His music relies heavily on motifs – first, trees on Trees & Truths, and now, water, on last year’s The Water[s] and his newest release Wave[s]. Classes can be imagined discussing his drenching usage of water as easily as what the letter “A” stands for in The Scarlet Letter or the prevalence of Christ figures in popular literature.
Have you ever noticed how rap tends to organize itself around two contrary poles? Orbiting around the first of these, you have the quintessential hip-hop “Warriors,” the competitive-aggressive toughs hardened by life on the streets of some glorified civil warzone. Orbiting around the second, you have the quintessential hip-hop “Wise Guys,” the all-knowing street-poets who define themselves in opposition to the Warriors and who attempt to transcend the narrow limits imposed on them by their warring counterparts. Together, these two classes are the expression of the same bitten environments neither can quite seem to escape, and even if they’ve arguably been around since the days when De La Soul and The Pharcyde offered non-threatening alternatives to the belligerent likes of N.
Wave[s] is the first official release by Chicago-based MC Mick Jenkins after several buzz-building digital mixtapes. The EP continues the aquatic theme of his previous release, 2014's acclaimed The Water[s], with Jenkins continuing to request the listener to "drink more water." Instead of clouding or distorting the mind with alcohol, caffeine, or sugar, water purifies and refreshes, and that's what Jenkins' intention seems to be. His intelligent lyrics and occasionally aggressive delivery hark back to '90s conscious rap (with the Roots and early OutKast occasionally springing to mind) but without directly copying anything from that era.
Drowning evokes a feeling of exasperated, muffled panic, a terrifying, all-encompassing, moment where you’re pulled down beyond any means of human control. That shit is scary. And yet, it’s what Mick Jenkins wants for his listener every time. The 24-year-old Chicago MC continues his rise up the conscious-rap hierarchy with his new EP, Wave[s].