Mick Jenkins: The Water[s] If you haven’t noticed, Chicago has been buzzing with new rappers. Over the last one to two years, there have been some Chicago rappers that seem to be grabbing a lot of attention. But out of all of them, three seem to shine the most: There’s Chance the Rapper, probably the most silly, joyous, and animated amongst the three, Vic Mensa, who seems to be the most popular after recently signing with Roc Nation, and then there’s Mick Jenkins; the most introspective of the trio who’s most recent project The Water[s] has caught the ears of many for his potent lyrics. In The Water[s], Mick Jenkins raps about life in the windy city as well as, of course, water. Something he refers to as, “The Healing Component.” Something that one can really appreciate in this mixtape is how he uses such a basic element of life to allude to and symbolize so much more. Water symbolizes a variety of things like a thirst for knowledge, honesty, spirituality, and truth. This mixtape kicks off with Shipwrecked, a track that tells the story of young Mick growing up on the violent streets of Chicago and his aspirations for a better life and the truth. His storytelling is one that’s very descriptive and allows you to enter the subconscious of a younger version of himself. As the mixtape moves on, Jenkins begins to address issues pertaining to materialism or “gold” with lines claiming that,
“Water is more important than the gold/ people for the gold/everybody do it for the gold/people save your souls.”
He also addresses racism, slavery, the superficiality of today’s world, and his odd predilection for ginger ale. A lot of the references to water in this mixtape can be interpreted in many ways, which is something that gives this mixtape a certain edge to it. One thing I must personally acknowledge is the production on this mixtape, particularly from OnGaud. Although there were other producers who contributed to the production of the beats, OnGaud was the most frequent and did an amazing job at creating calm and serene beats that not only sound good, but fit Mick’s naturally deep voice. The music sampled for the beats helped provide sonically beautiful instrumentals that were perfect for the concept of this mixtape; calm and honest. For example, the track Vibe provides a beautiful sample of Dexter Wansel’s The Sweetest Pain and is what makes it one of the best tracks on the project and track Martyrs also provides a beautiful sample of Carmen McRae’s cover of Billie Holiday’s famous song Strange Fruit. The artists featured on this project also help tie together Mick’s songs with beautiful hooks such as Jean Deaux on the song Healer and The Mind’s hook on Dehydration. Then there are songs which require someone with clever punchlines and charisma to come in and hit you with a fire verse. That’s when Joey Bada$$ comes in. This project ends with the song Jerome in which Mick and label-mate Joey Bada$$ are literally screaming their verses. This song was good for the backend of this project because it lets you know that Mick is not just a one trick pony that can only be calm and insightful. It shows he can stand his ground against the most aggressive of rappers and can deliver hard hitting, in your face verses.
Overall The Water[s] is a great mixtape. This project really makes his presence known throughout the rap game and I believe that his next project will be something that builds upon this concept. Jenkins is more than active on social media and alerted fans just last week that his next project Wave[s] will be coming out soon so stay on the lookout for that. Definitely recommend giving this project a listen if you’re the type of hip hop head who wants some food for thought or water for thought in this case.