Mick Jenkins - The Water[s]

Posted August 12, 2014
Tags: Mick Jenkins,

Fresh off his signing to Cinematic Music Group, Chi-Town buzzmaker Mick Jenkins has kicked off the latest phase of his career with the release of highly-anticipated album The Water[s].

The DJBooth "Top Prospect"'s project will comprise a total of 16 original jams, including reader-approved singles "The Waters," "Martyrs," "Who Else?" and "Lazarus."

Ebony, Jean Deaux and NoName Gypsy make guest appearances throughout the set, which boasts boardwork by the likes of Chuck Strangers, Da P., DJ Dahi and Dream Koala.

The Water[s] Album Review

As much as I love the internet, TV, video games, my computer, Netflix, my iPod and everything else I totally don't need, the truth is that they're all dangerous. We get so wrapped up in our things, we often forget what life is like when we simply live it. The same goes for music. I love music more than anything and I am listening to it constantly. Work, running, driving, walking to the Metro, in line at Chipotle; for me, music is the constant soundtrack to every day. However, I rarely just stop and listen. I mean really listen. No multi-tasking, no distractions, just me and the music.

Yesterday, Mick Jenkins dropped his long-awaited (at least by yours truly) project, The Water[s]. Fittingly, it had also been thunder storming all day. So much so that, you guessed it, the power went out. A sense of loss and panic took over because I couldn't play FIFA, couldn't research fantasy football, and couldn't do my review of The Water[s]…until I stopped, took a breath, and just listened to the rain.

I had forgotten how much fun sitting and listening to a summer thunderstorm could be. I love those few moments in between a shooting flash of light and the wait to hear that ominous growl of thunder. The drops of rain hitting my roof clamored down onto my fallen gutter from where my gutter, there was a leak right by my fireplace. It's amazing how clear your mind becomes when you shut down everything else and listen.

Finally, the power came back on, I pressed play on Mick's project, and in a zen-like mindset, there wasn't much difference between the storm and the music. No surprise there, the cohesive theme of Water[s] is...wait for it..... water.

Thunder is my favorite part of a storm. Thunder is what drives the storm, what shakes you and keeps you from tuning out. You can get used to flashes of light and the rain, but thunder is too jarring to ignore. Cue up, "Jazz." It's that same feeling I get - like being enveloped and drowned out - when Jenkins' cracking, rolling flow depicts seeking authenticity in a world of fakers (jazz talkers). The beat, produced by an OnGaud, who seems to be behind the project's most compelling efforts, is lullaby-esque. Like the pouring rain, you can adjust to it; it doesn't overwhelm you, but becomes part of your environment. However, it's Jenkins' growling, ominous flow that engines the song the way thunder paces a storm. If it weren't for his gripping flow, lines like "Most rappers these days is actors/And I can't keep watching the same movie" wouldn't have the same potency and "Jazz" wouldn't be nearly as striking; but his flow cuts to your core like a clasp of thunder. You have no choice but to listen.

Of course, no storm is complete without the fireworks, the flash, the danger, the lightning. Thunder is crucial to any storm, but without the flashes of brilliant light, we wouldn't have any thunder. The crack you hear illuminates the dark, dreary sky. Thunder is just a noise. Your dog may tremble, but you know it can't hurt you. It's lightning that can leave you with a tree in the middle of your living room, or worse. Now, I haven't been struck by lightning, but I think I know what it's like thanks to the jolting power of Mick's bars. On the track's opening effort, "Shipwrecked," a relatively mellow, hypnotizing effort, Mick dishes out some fiery, jolting bars:

"Since Boy Meets World been savaged/But the goal was never really the beef, its been cabbage/We kill for it, when we die we can't have it/But we can't kill the habit holdin' onto this boat 'til we shipwreck."
Electric. When I heard that line for the first time, it gave me goosebumps and made my hair stand on edge. However, not every instance of lighting is a bolt - or in Mick's case, a slap-you-in-the face, electrifying line. Take, "Martyrs" or "Drink More Water". On occasion, Mic's flow spans farther than one bolt, tearing your brain asunder like a struck tree. Though the chorus of "Martyrs" may sound like your typical, watered-down, artificial hip-hop (bitches, money, cars, etc) on the surface, the last line, "Hangin' with my n***as", takes on a deeper meaning. Jenkins takes the metaphor of "Hangin' with my n***as" to embody the way in which "thug" rappers perpetuate the stereotypes and leave blacks marginalized. Much more than a Boy Meets World reference, Mick's lyrics take on something bigger, something that spans further than some slick wordplay.

On "Healer," Jenkins again equates his music to the purity of water. Where others give you toxins and the fans seem to drink it up - "I couldn’t afford to get my girl into this open mic that I performed for... / But somewhere in the world there’s a Riff Raff concert that people gon' swarm for" - Mick gives you the pure, life-sustaining liquid you need. The metaphor of his rap, embodied by H20, is like light that illuminates what the landscape below the storm appears to be. Lightning is the meat of a storm, the "bite," and on title track "The Water[s]", the real punch comes from his compelling lyrics. Whether It be a potent one-liner or a deep, culturally significant metaphor, Mick's lyrics, and what he does with these flashes of brilliance, are the meat. "The Water[s]" is the most compelling and explosive part of the project the same way lightning is the main draw of a storm.

When you put together the lightning, the rain, and the thunder, you have a pretty incredible summer experience. The same way you can sit and listen to the way mother nature bends all three, you can spend an evening soaking in The Water[s]. I always try to put an album to practical use, but with this one it's hard. It's not really workout music, it's too striking to listen to at the grocery store, too deep and dark for a party, this album is like a storm that cuts you off from the world because it is best listened to when you really listen.

You still remember how to really listen, don't you?

[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins

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Posted August 12, 2014
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