Mick Jenkins, real name Jayson Jenkins, has been cold chillin’ on the streets of Chicago since the early 2000s. At twenty-three years old, Jayson Jenkins has written and recorded some of what I believe to be the 21st century’s most lyrically compelling work. Sadly it seems that, in my humble opinion, Micks fan base is not reflective of his aptitude for the art form. It's the reason I came to write the following piece; to inform and educate on the unrecognized talent hiding amidst the city of Chicago. So let me lay down my thoughts on why you should appreciate all that is Mick.
1. From Humble Beginnings
Jayson Jenkins was born in Alabama in 1991. At the impressionable age of ten, Jayson moved with his mother to Chicago. It was here that Jenkins earned his poetic license. The influence of his surroundings can be found lingering whimsically through the lyrics of his songs. A poetic journey where being raised by his mother after his parents separated, he began his path towards rap. His mother is the one to be thanked, nourishing his musical soul with the expressive sounds of Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Lauren hill. Now in 2015, at the ripe age of twenty-three, Jenkins has honed and refined his gift for communicating his ideas through rap. These ideas aren’t timid in nature and touch on the harsh truths persecuting the minds of millennials.
2. He's got some good friends.
Jenkins runs with some of Americas underground hip hop elite. Jenkins has been lucky enough to collaborate with the likes of Chance the rapper & Vic Mensa. The result of this cross-pollination of musical talent is the single entitled “Crossroads” in 2013. Two years following Mick Jenkins has finished his second tour with Pro Eras Kirk Knight. With a third tour around the corner, Mick and Joey team up for a collection of funky beats and smooth lyrical flavor. The independent music label ‘Cinematic Music Group’ represents, Joey, Mick and Pro Era. And just to add to the level of cool, he belongs to the hip-hop Group Free Nation. Free Nation is a collection of artists sharing the opinion that to resist the status quo will bring creative freedom you can’t reach with the current ‘powers that be’ imposing restraints.
3. The high praise
Mick Jenkins has broken through the clutter of Chicago, with its abundance of fame hungry artists, and is getting noticed. Timbaland gave Jenkins high praise labeling his rapping abilities as ‘intricate lyricism’. ‘The Waters,’ Jenkins latest mixtape has received positive attention on sites such as Pitchfork. At 15 years old, Pitchfork has established itself as a credible source of musical opinion. Pitchfork’s review of Mick’s “The Waters” touches on points of similarity between him and the musically accomplished Kendrick Lamar. Saying the mixtape pays an evident tribute to Kendrick’s “Sing about me, I am dying of thirst” and “swimming pools (drank).” Kudos were given for progression made in production and overall cohesion between tracks.
4. The Hidden Treasures
One can distinguish a true artist through various characteristics. They speak with passion about their art form, they don’t care to compete, and more importantly they never stop practicing. Mick Jenkins has a repertoire of music that is extensive and respectable, giving the hip-hop aficionados out there the ability to unearth songs that satisfy their new music needs - hidden treasures like the mix tapes: ‘The pursuit of HappyNess: the Story of Mickalas Cage’ and the ‘Mickstape’. These are the songs that get your friends asking, ‘Who is this?’
Find them. Download them. Listen to them.
5. The Style
Mick Jenkins is dapper as fuck. It’s all well cut coats, pre-loved heavily printed button-down shirts, all matched with an impressive collection of hats. He is one of few who can practice the art form of gangster rap and maintain authenticity in his lyrics while wearing a fedora.
6. The Music.
Last but not least. Mick Jenkins is - as I have repeatedly mentioned - lyrically gifted. However, with the release of ‘The Waters’, Jenkins has grown considerably in production quality. His voice has grown to exude a level of self-assurance that has, until now, been lurking in the background. It has always been present but not in focus. Now his voice has taken centre stage. There is distinction. His tracks deliver the perfect platform for his vocals to take charge. Jenkins’ literary symbolism pours from his lines. Engaging deeper with the listener, the messages are cleverly communicated commenting on some of societies most ironic truths . The ingenuity of his phrase creates an atmosphere that is picture provoking for his listeners.
Sonically, “The Waters” also performs rather well. Its soft guitar instrumentals, choir samples, and cleverly composed vocals create a full, satisfying sound. In my opinion Mick Jenkins, unlike Kendrick Lamar, and more recently Joey Bada$$, is yet to stumble upon the widespread recognition he deserves. Despite his flurry of compliments from various famed artists, Jenkins is yet to go international. With the release of his next album “Waves” nearing its debut, you can expect this to change his situation.