Album: Pieces of a Man
Artist: Mick Jenkins
Label: Cinematic Music Group / FreeNation
Non-Airable Tracks: All
The Chicago based rapper Mick Jenkins is no stranger to pondering upon the meanings of life, with his first studio album The Healing Component attempting at constructing a definition of what love means. Even before his first album’s conception, his 2014 breakout mixtape The Water[s] defined Mick Jenkins’ flow and caliber as a remarkable lyricist in hip-hop. Fast forward two years ahead and we are presented with his sophomore album, Pieces of a Man, wherein the emcee continues his reflections of life in the form of an introspective journey, meditating upon the individual pieces of man that form the whole.
The album commences with a calm Mick Jenkins, offering assurance and a glimpse into what the album will entail as he hypes the crowd, “Good to be here / I’m excited that many of you can come out and share these vibrations with us…”. As the music flows from the spoken word, “Stress Fracture” immediately immerses the listener in an atmosphere of tension and unease as Jenkins tries to find solace in the time that he has between making it big, remaining confident in himself and his vision, and ensuring that his music speaks his experiences. “Gwendolyn’s Apprehension” then switches it up, playing like an ode to old school Super Nintendo era games that enveloped players in worlds of color. A majority of what makes this album special is the rapper’s ability to maintain a lyrical grasp among varying beats and flows covering topics from the roots of religion planted in Jenkins’ life, to consensual love and the lifestyle of a rapper and how this has affected a religious upbringing in his daily choices.
As the halfway mark of “Percy Interlude” rolls into “Reginald”, Ben Hixon provides a beautiful backdrop for Mick Jenkins to continue his wordplay. Jenkins muses upon getting caught up in an image juxtaposed with the idea of being brought up in conversation based on fragments of who you are as opposed to the entire image. “Padded Locks” re-stokes the flame with a chopped and screwed version of what seems like a BADBADNOTGOOD song (perhaps “Confessions”?) featuring Ghostface Killah, with Mick Jenkins opening the already hard hitting beat with, “Somebody put me on a leash I’m buckin’ wild like the AK’ ‘cause it came from KAYTRA”. Not to mention an already solid cast of producers over the course of 17 different flavored beats, Ghostface Killah offers a killer side to Jenkins, rapping ferociously from “You’s as basic as a baby daddy on Maury…”, to, “Donald Trump is a piece of s***…”.
There is a lot to take in here, and at 17 tracks to digest, one can get lost in the thick of what
Mick Jenkins has portrayed in the reflections of man, or at least at his disposal of experiences, which seem to act as a major theme in his music past and presently speaking. That’s not to say that this is anything new, or at least in the scheme of conscious rap, he’s just pretty damn good at it, as he spits in one of my favorite tracks off the album, “ Aye, feeling like that n**** these days my skin is much clearer…”. In light of some of the heavier topics presented in this album, it has already been in my rotation of daily music intake since it’s release a while back. Mick Jenkins isn’t your ordinary rapper, but unlike the majority of mainstream hip-hop’s appeal, his flavor is one in it’s own that has been curated over time on his own, resulting in a fresh sound that acts as a funky ode to the Gil Scott-Heron classic re-envisioned for modern rap consumption.
Sounds Like: EARTHGANG, Saba
4. Soft Porn (3:43)
8. Reginald ft. Ben Hixon (2:48)
12. Plain Clothes (3:52)
Reviewer’s Name: Maximilian Serventi
Date of Review: 11/12/18