65/35 | Mick Jenkins— The Healing Component
Mick Jenkins’ zeal for hopefulness is admirable, especially given the cutthroat nature of Southside Chicago, the area in which he was born and raised. The city has long been a melting pot for gun crime — the crux of which is often exemplified in Chicago’s drill scene, a niche of rap defined by particularly Southern influences and an uncompromising focus on gang life. Following in the footsteps of some of Chicago’s most creative savants (such as Chance the Rapper and Kanye West), Mick has been pushing for the youth to adopt a more positive outlook. Whilst past projects such as The Waters highlighted the dystopian aspects of Chicago’s lifeblood, his newest LP puts the focus on a sweeter sentiment — love, of both the self and others.
Jenkins has always had a boundless propensity for intricate, thought-provoking raps. It’s apparent that his mastery of wordplay is a point of pride; from the titular opener, right the way through the duration of the project, Jenkins exhibits a command of language characterised by a nimble delivery and a sharp tongue. And while his gruff, commanding tones are well-suited to lyrical sermons, his expanded focus on melodic hooks shows a much improved vocal acuity. The spacey, textural, trap-leaning instrumentals pair well with Jenkins’ musings — collaborators such as Sango, Kaytranada and THEMpeople make notable contributions, providing compositions comprised of muted synths, crisp snares and glittering electric pianos. Live instrumental outfit BadBadNotGood also provide a luscious, organic detour from the electronic stylings that grace the majority of the album.
2 | Spread Love
prod. by Sango
Opening with muted chatter and a beautiful wailing vocal, Spread Love sees Jenkins gliding effortlessly over a wistful keyboard melody and sparse, yet snappy drums. Swelling synth chords fall in and out of place as he details the album’s broader theme, eschewing the notion of hate with an unusually bright disposition. Along with the warm, pulsating sub bass, Sango’s simple yet masterful combination of elements create a perfect sound bed for Mick to display his versatile vocal talents; in particular, the chorus combines a dexterous flow and sunny harmonies to wonderful effect. Sango’s gospel-esque affectations make an appearance during the track’s brief bridge section, as a glowing symphony of organs back Jenkins’ soulful crooning.
6 | Drowning (ft. BadBadNotGood)
prod. by BadBadNotGood
Pairing bluesy, pained vocals and a moody, rustic composition, Drowning is a stellar track that showcases a surprising chemistry between both parties. BadBadNotGood’s airy synths and plodding bass underpin Jenkins haunting refrains, a stark cowbell ringing menacingly in the background — notably, Mick throws in a clever subversion of a Kanye West line, transforming the latter’s insolent bragging into a question of romantic submission. Tense piano riffs and screeching guitars play support as he springs into an energetic lyrical run, filled with witty retorts and insightful metaphors. BadBadNotGood’s boisterous outro section also brings an interesting change of pace to the track, its frenetic keys dancing alongside Jenkins’ panicked screams.
10 | 1000 Xans (ft. theMIND)
prod. by Kaytranada
Kaytranada’s transient sounds provide a bouncy, ethereal canvas for Jenkins’ commentary— exploring both a dependancy and aversion to drug use, Mick rides glossy, wavering synths with a particularly emotive cadence. Pinched vocals fade into the onset of the track, the stuttering drumbeat and thunderous bass helping Jenkins’ narrative blossom into a poignant expose of addiction. Free Nation affiliate theMIND assists with soothing vocals and a passionate hook, as Kaytranada’s wiry synths drift in and out of the mix. A charged, powerful reprise to the album’s second act.
The Healing Component| Mick utilises a tongue-twisting flow over pulsating synths and punchy drums
Communicate| A more traditional offering from Kaytranada accompanied by playful lyrics, a great guest vocal and a funky low-end
Plugged| IAMNOBODI’s wonderful symphony of trudging percussion and delicate piano riffs goes hand-in-hand with Jenkins’ soulful harmonies
Not so Honourable Mentions
Daniels Bloom| A lethargic, despondent offering that suffers from a redundant chorus and pace-killing album placement
As Seen in Bethsaida| An over-produced and jarring track that ambles on awkwardly
Mick Jenkins’ aptitude for conceptual storytelling is ever impressive – The Healing Component offers a variety of rich narratives that explore the album’s expansive theme. Yet, the project’s most prominent aspect is also its most glaring flaw, as Jenkins’ attempt to tackle such a broad topic in so much detail causes a loss of momentum across the duration of the album, and a lack of truly captivating songs. Regardless, Jenkins is still one of Chicago’s premier lyricists, and his back catalogue proves he can create stellar bodies of work given he doesn’t spread himself too thin.