Mick Jenkins has been on my “artists to watch” list for the past year now. I wasn’t a huge fan of 2015’s Wave[s] mixtape, but I was a big fan of his first tape The Water[s] back in 2014, his verse on the unreleased Chance the Rapper track “Grown Ass Kid” and his part on “Money & Bitches” from Joey Purp’s fantastic mixtape iiiDrops earlier this year. With Chicago putting out never ending decent material this year, Mick’s record The Healing Component was released last Friday to little to no massive buzz surrounding the tape. It was a couple days before I got to listen to it, but the absence of hype had me concerned.
On the second track of The Water[s], “THC,” Mick says that “the healing component” is water. It’s purifying, cyclical, cleansing, essential to life, and a symbol of a new beginning. It’s a trope he’s kept throughout his rapping career, but on the aptly titled The Healing Component, Mick adds another healing component: love. The water symbolism isn’t out of the picture, it just takes precedence to the idea of “love,” and especially the concept of spreading it. It’s quite a simple philosophy: if everyone loved themselves then it would be easier to love each other, which would ultimately lead to a more peacefully society. There’s only one problem, lyrics aside, the record doesn’t sound as if it was promoting this message at all. In fact, the record sounds dark, brooding, glitchy and untethered, as if Mick was still working through this concept within himself, despite the sought after uplifting meaning of The Healing Component.
What sounds like one hour long song, The Healing Component works through a lot of things as Mick reckons with a return to understanding what love means, what’s most important in the world, and rediscovering his faith. As Anthony Fantano of TheNeedledrop put it, “all of these references come with a little side of Jesus.” There’s a couple of decent tracks like Jenkins’ personal favorite “Spread Love,” “Fucked Up Outro,” “Angles” and the Eric Gardner-inspired “Drowning” with BadBadNotGood, where he interpolates a line from Kanye West’s “Bound 2:” “when the real hold you down, you supposed to drown.” To Mick, in comparison to Gardner’s “I can’t breathe,” the “Bound 2” phrase doesn’t sound right when viewed as oppression, since “the real” is supposed to be uplifting.
Sadly, the message kind of gets lost in the record as Mick spends most of the record working through what sounds like everything towards the fabled, universal “healing component.” Mick Jenkins has a very devoted fan base, and it’s great how much such an influence in distributing a positive message can have on a city, especially one as happening art-wise as Chicago, but this is no “How Great.” This is “Fall Through,” a struggle in finding “the healing component”. It’s an interesting take of the same message, but it doesn’t seem as effective in delivery just yet.