Listen: Waves – Mick Jenkins – Mixtape Review

Mick Jenkins Waves
Mick Jenkins Waves

By the power of his recent releases, 24 year-old Chicago native rapper Mick Jenkins has been breaking sound barriers through the air space of hip-hop. The second H2O themed mixtape, Wave[s] is delivered in nine tracks and is no exception. Coupled with Mick’s crisp and refreshing deliverance of lyricism through smooth transitions and fluctuating instrumentals, the mixtape explores a new sound for the young rapper that we have yet to hear.

With an ambient introduction, the first track “Alchemy” drops hard. starting the mixtape off with an explosive opening. Mick’s delivery in lyricism scheduled with the bass drop and tri-hat is executed to perfection, laying out hard hitting lyrics when the beat slaps like:

Creating this gold from the lead in my pencil 

I think I’m a alchemist, and it’s gon take courage no cowardly dogs 

In the pound, we don’t want ’em round

Mick has an alluring ability to control, grabbing listeners all at once in a repeating cycle. This proves off the bat that he has the mechanics of a solid rapper and with his skill as an MC he is able to shine on any instrumental provided.

Contrasting the mood of the song above, from the get go you should realize that taking the project title into account is important. Like waves itself, you’ll find highs and lows that jump from track to track. The next song titled “Slumber,” includes collaborations with Donnie Trumpet. Saba, and Sean Deaux. You can feel the beat pop through the air from your speakers, with snare drums snapping in a jazzy and erratic rhythm. They disturb and elongate the melody as the listener feels every drop with purpose. Ironically to the name of the track, Mick guides you throughout the song within lyricism and the rapid, active beat. The song ends with an over-taking, fairy-tale tempo acting as if they’re trying to tell you to go to sleep when within the track, you’ve really been sleeping the whole time and that you need to wake up. By the way, if you’re reading this Jon, it’s time to wake up. You’re in a simulation.

After landing onto the track “Your Love,” Mick illustrates the true aspect of the mixtape’s dynamic nature. With a bass line that floods your speakers with funk, the song approaches uncharted territory into areas you wouldn’t normally expect the rapper to explore. The verses are not as lyrically deep as the tracks prior, but the deliverance is playful and mechanically sound.  Within the middle of these verses you can feel the rhymes transition and evolve, putting emphasis on the end syllabics that pull together to create a beautiful song.

Citing the whole verse is important to emphasize the incredible ability of what Mick did within the track:

5’3″ with the Crown Royal skin-tone

Plus she brought her own water

Man, she been on

Per the joints; she hit me with a couple pearls of wisdom

Now it’s on, had me open like a flip-phone

Flip-mode, every single night is buzzin’

We be learnin’ till we leanin’ like we off the Robitussin

Keep the pace slow

Movin with the tempo, know you feel it when the bass low

Waitin’ on the break down

I don’t need a peso

Did it for the lo-lo girl, the free, it’s what I’m based on

Come and feel with me

We could be a couple; Mase Songs

No insurance, it explodes!

Just state farm

Hold on, Lady

At this part of the album a point is made clear and it makes me reminiscent of when J. Cole released Born Sinner the same time Kanye West released Yeezus. During that year, Cole released something solid. He released that sturdy rap that you expected a rap album to be. In contrast to the same time when Kanye released Yeezus, West had a more avant garde approach to hip hop and went towards areas people wouldn’t expect him to approach.  

Wave[s] is a medley of both. Where the mixtape still consists of hard, solid rap tracks throughout the album, there are tracks throughout the album that help illustrate waves itself; making this project very fluid by approaching new styles and revealing a spectrum of emotion. Imagine the first track “Alchemy” starting off as the rise of a wave. “Get Up Get Down” is the peak of the first wave, with a high and active instrumental, the easy boom-bap style returns with the theme of hard hitting tri-hats and high-slapping snares. The peak is followed by “Your Love,” which proceeds to get low and funky, and that’s when you recognize the drop. The tracks then on proceed to get darker and darker until you’re in fact “40 Below,” to which point scientifically is far past freezing temperature. Only when “P’s and Q’s” starts, does a new wave appear. “Perception,” featuring The Mind that also started off in The Water[s], ends the mixtape alongside Mick, and if anything, signals a pattern and the actual development of a new project.”

Unfortunately, there are some tracks that fall flat. Songs like “Get Up Get Down,” “Piano,” and “The Giver” fit and remain consistent within the way the mixtape feels, yet are recognized as filler compared to tracks like “40 Below,” “P’s and Q’s,” and “Perception,” which coincidentally are the last few tracks that wrap the whole mixtape up. There’s nothing wrong with the tracks, there’s just nothing that sticks in your mind and has you coming back for more. “Alchemy,” “Slumber,” and “Your Love,” are without a doubt, the most profound sounding and are most notably the highlights within the Chicago Native’s nine track mixtape project.

Wave[s] is a fantastic addition to anyone’s listening queue in the midst of this year’s Summer. Like an author working at their novel, the project doesn’t come without its plot holes. However, that’s what mixtapes are for, to deliver a taste of something good before the listeners are able to have a taste of something even greater.

Our Rating

8 Mixtape Score

As different as every song may be, the smooth transitions link them together, making each track a part of a pattern, and cohesively bringing the mixtape together in waves of emotion. 

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