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Mick Jenkins seeks healing on debut LP

| Wednesday, October 12, 2016

MickJenkins_bannerLINDSEY MEYERS | The Observer

Looking at Mick Jenkins’ “The Healing Component” from the surface, it’s easy to scoff and think of the LP as nothing more than another rapper’s take on the ever-present theme of love. Take a step back, folks. “The Healing Component” may not be revolutionary, but it does provide us with a fresh take that pumps new life into a classic motif.

On Jenkins’ previous EP, “Wave(s)”, the tracks seemed lighter and perhaps a little less dense. However, on “The Healing Component,” Jenkins has a darker, more explicit theme in mind for this album, and he sticks with it throughout. The songs rumble along with jazzy keyboards and bluesy feels, making this not only a significant contribution to the 2016 rap genre cache, but to the blues category as well.

Jenkins releases his debut LP in the midst of a notable period of unrest in America, and he is here to share a wealth of love. On the title track, Jenkins asks us to “spread love, try to combat the sadness.” He speaks with the words of a prophet, climbing a stairway to break free from the dark forces that are tearing him to pieces. Over the ticking of a clock that tells us time is of the essence, Jenkins whispers the lyrics to “Drowning” with a hint of fear that comes with the realization of what’s really going on. We can audibly hear Jenkins struggling to keep his head above the water, flailing and choking, saying “I can’t breathe.”

“When the real hold you down, you supposed to drown right? / Wait, wait, that don’t sound right,” Jenkins repeats, convincing himself that a cycle of oppression can be broken and should not be accepted.

“The Healing Component” dabbles in Scripture and religion enough to draw comparisons to Chance the Rapper’s landmark “Coloring Book” album, released earlier this year. However, while “Coloring Book” was more innocent and saintly, as the title implies, “The Healing Component” seeks to use faith in order to combat the injustices abounding in America as of late. The 15 tracks delve into police brutality, institutionalized racism and everything in between. It puts into words what many have been thinking, yet may not have been able to express as clearly and potently as Jenkins does. If anything, the album is something to rally behind.

The LP — with lyrics soaked in drug references both explicit and implicit — also provides a platform for Jenkins to explain his relationship with different chemicals. On “1000 Xans,” against a trippy beat, Jenkins tells us, “In some circles misconceptions make ’em think my inspiration herbal, it’s not / I mean sometimes it is.” Think of it as a stoned version of Appleby’s “Castles.” Jenkins has been expressive about his dependency on weed, but he’s no hippie calling for a group hug: Jenkins uses drugs for inspiration, his poignant message cutting like a knife. An unsettling amount of truth in Jenkins’ verses knocks listeners upside the head and demands serious self-evaluation concerning our relationships with the divine and the not-so-divine.  

“The Healing Component” is another solid piece in a quality line of works that Jenkins has put out since 2014. It provides us with tracks to groove to on the dance floor, as well as introspective beats that are layered with tiny revelations. Jenkins’ suggestion of spreading the love to cure our broken state are not a panacea. However, the rapper gets what’s going on, and his words of wisdom should not be cast aside. This LP is a gut punch to society. Hopefully it garners the recognition Jenkins deserves: He may be a little new to the scene, but Mick is definitely making waves.

Tracks: “Drowning,” “1000 Xans,” “Communicate”

If you like: Vince Staples, Flatbush Zombies, Danny Brown

4/5 Shamrocks

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