Mick Jenkins is a Chicago Emcee who received national attention last year with his 4th mixtape ‘The Water[s]’. The project contained heavy imagery of water, using it as a symbol for many different concepts and social issues. The Water[s] also impressed with it’s sonic consistency. Murky sub bass, heavy snare and high hats, and beautiful synths to add a watery atmosphere make up most of the tracklist. The project as a whole made the listener feel submerged in the deep, dark ocean.
At first glance Wave[s] appears to be a sequel to The Water[s] with the opener “Alchemy”. The atmospheric-trap style instrumental picks up exactly where Wave[s]’ predecessor left off and Mick continues with his liquid songwriting even going as far as to poke fun at criticism of The Water[s] “They say I be talkin bout water too much/They say they confused about Ginger ale.” This track is a fantastic opener and one of the best on this project
As Wave[s] progresses it becomes clear that this is definitely not The Water[s] Volume 2. While Mick’s subject matter is similar, musically he is definitely stepping out of his comfort zone. “Your Love” sounds like it could have come straight out of the 1980s with its funky bass line and Mick finds himself rapping as well as singing throughout this track. He goes further down this path on “The Giver” singing almost the entire song with the help of auto-tune and also on “40 Below” where he croons “So cold… How she got so cold?” These songs are very reminiscent of “808s & Heartbreak” but Mick’s voice is actually smoother and less robotic than Kanye West’s, and he does rap on these tracks so even if you didn’t enjoy Kanye’s “r&b” project I recommend you don’t immediately write these songs off.
The other conventional rap songs on this album do still feature the heavy bass and rattling high hats, but they are much more upbeat this time. “Slumber” has a jazzy horn section, but the chaotic drums really outshine every other part on this cut including the vocalists. Mick goes back to his old style on “Piano” somehow sounding smooth and aggressive at the same time. On “P’s and Q’s” he gets straight to the point spitting over a quieter beat and coming through with some really impressive bars. The closing track is easily one of my least favorites. While it has kind of a nice beat change towards the end of it, it is a dull and unimpressive way to close out this EP.
Jenkins is undeniably a talented lyricist and performer, and even though some of the ideas and experiments on this project aren’t fully successful he was still able to entertain start to finish. This EP serves a good purpose in that it opens more musical doors for Mick to improve on, and it makes me anticipate his next full length album a lot more.
-Levi Brown (@levhtx)