Irrespective of the continuing discussion as to whether certain sub-genres of Hip Hop – specifically that known as “mumble rap” – should be considered within the genre, there is clearly enough evidence that conventional lyricism is still being illustrated by many musicians. An exceptional example of such can be found in the form of Mick Jenkins – yet another artist to come from the plethora of talent that Chicago seems to continuously provide.
He came to the attention of many due to his outstanding project, The Water[s], from 2014, an effort that acted as the follow up to Trees And Truth from the previous year. Both projects were built around highly thought out concepts, something that Jenkins has continued since throughout his burgeoning career, including his prequel EP, Wave[s], which eventually led to his studio album, The Healing Component.
Jenkins’ focus for the album transitions from the water metaphor from his previous two projects, to the healing component now being the concept of love. This is made most evident through ‘Spread Love’, the Sango produced track that was used as the album’s lead single. Sango also contributes to ‘Daniel’s Bloom’, where Jenkins examines how difficult it can be to be to spread the love he encourages on the previous track when you’re emerging from certain circumstances.
Jenkins’ musical relationship with Kaytranada, which began on Waves[s], resumes on The Healing Component via the tracks ‘Communicate’ and ‘1000 Xans’. The Canadian producer supplies his familiar irresistibly infectious bounce, which Jenkins navigates masterfully, though arguably, the rappers best work can be found on the trio of tracks that see out the album; ‘Love, Robert Horry’, ‘Angles’ & ‘Fucked Up Outro’, upon which Jenkins exhibits the elements that made The Water[s] such an excellent project.
Although the production of the album is handled by the likes of the aforementioned Sango and Kaytranada, in addition to other notable names including, IAMNOBODI and frequent collaborators of Jenkins’, THEMpeople, there is a slightly underwhelming air that surrounds the overall production. While Jenkins still finds space to rap in its most uninhibited form, the use of more – for lack of a better term – conventional Hip Hop production would have aided the understanding of the lyrical concept he’s attempting to push. Furthermore, this lack of unadulterated rap (the type seen on ‘Martyrs’ and ‘P’s & Q’s’, for example) means that the album as a whole is missing that aggressive sharpness that his previous projects have had.
This is not to say there aren’t countless examples of Jenkins proving that he should be considered among the top lyricists of this decade, as he effortlessly excites with levels of lyricism that are often only credited to his peers, such as Kendrick Lamar & J. Cole.
Jenkins decided to keep the featured guests on the project fairly low profile, with regular collaborators theMIND and Noname (formerly Noname Gypsy) and an array of artists that aren’t too well known, but excel during their moments, with the greatest example being Xavier Omar on ‘Angles’.
Depending on when you began listening to Mick Jenkins music will likely determine how much you enjoy The Healing Component. For those who revelled in the rawness of Trees And Truth, a sentiment that was then continued and refined on The Water[s], you may deem The Healing Component too polished in comparison. Conversely, if you were introduced to Jenkins through Wave[s], this album will feel like less of a drastic evolution from what you know of him, and understandably easier to digest. As Jenkins himself has suggested in various interviews, finding that balance to appease all his listeners is the only thing preventing him being considered one of the most talented rappers of his generation.