Review: Mick Jenkins – “Wave[s]”

Mick Jenkins – Wave[s]

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The Water[s] was one of my favorite mixtapes from last year, so when I heard that Mick Jenkins would be releasing a new project, this time an EP titled Wave[s], this year, I was excited to check it out. It was released through NPR’s first list early last week, giving fans a chance to give it a listen before it was officially released last Friday. With 9 tracks and just a shade under 30 minutes in length, this project has a different feel than Wave[s] just based on the density of the project – there was no room for filler, and Mick seemed to do a good job avoiding that, just as he did on Water[s].

The closing track on Water[s], “Jerome”, was a hard-hitting banger, much harder than any of the other songs on the tape. Wave[s] generally resembles that “banger” feel, though maybe not your typical type of “bangers”; regardless, save for two or three tracks, the instrumental choices are much harder than most of the jazzy, laid-back feel on his previous tape. He does, however, have trumpet player Donnie Trumpet on one track to provide background instruments on one of the more tracks reminiscent of his Water[s] style, “Slumber”.

Lyrically, this tape is similar in theme to Water[s], using the drink more water/Ginger Ale metaphor. Mick isn’t a great lyricist, but he’s good enough that it’s easy to listen to. What makes Mick stand out to me is his inflection of tones – he can change the way his voice sounds depending on the instrumental – he can be loud, mellow, somber – he even does some singing, as it seems most rappers are trying these days – and it’s really isn’t that bad, especially on the track “Your Love”, where his smooth voice works well in the hook over a nice beat. A lot of the rappers that have tried singing this year… has not worked out, but Mick definitely has a voice that works and is more than bearable to listen to.

Even with some of the production differences, this tape still bears a lot of resemblance to last year’s project, and it makes me wonder what Mick has in store for his next project (most likely his first studio album), and whether this EP is more of a “bridge” to his next project. Still, it’s a pretty damn good bridge if so. As he raps on “Alchemy”: “They say I be talking bout water too much / You hear that? /That’s how many fucks I could give”, Mick doesn’t seem to be worried about the way people receive his topics. If he keeps making music like this, even with the water metaphor, he’ll continue to silence those critics.

FAVORITE SONGS: Your Love, Alchemy, Piano, P’s & Q’s

LEAST FAVORITE SONG: Slumber