Finally we have been replenished with some fresh Ginger Ale from Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins. I have been a fan since I first saw his Value Village video a few years ago and ripped the song off of YouTube to burn onto a mix CD to play in my car.
As a side note if you want to rip audio or songs from YouTube just check out the website “http://www.youtube-mp3.org”. However you won’t need to do that with the new Mick Jenkin’s album which is a free download if you just search Mick Jenkins the Waters on Google or Yahoo.
On all of Mick’s previous project Trees and Truths he expressed a lot of his qualms with modern day society and does even more so on The Waters. He ends up coming across with a unique sound that is has a tinge of bitterness yet it refined and smooth. His sound might be described in a similar way as Ginger Ale. Sweet but not too sweet, with a little afterburn, and a refreshing alternative to the rest of the “soda pop” rappers out right now.
Shipwrecked - Sort of freewheeling somewhat unconventional and very lucid track. Track changes towards the last quarter with some soul samples and more aggressive and contrasting vocals from Mick.
Healer - laid back R&B female vocal from Jean Deux, very solid performance. All of the female vocal appearances on this project are solid and complement the tracks nicely. I have heard a lot of guest female vocals on smaller releases like this that just fall flat, but everyone on The Waters is smooth and silky and flow well with the Water theme Mick goes with throughout this album. On the other hand Mick has some sort of sloppy styled delivery on this track, which I think was intentional but it just doesn’t come across in a pleasant way.
Comfortable: catchy and laid back with another solid female vocal from No Gypsy. Almost sounds a tiny little bit like missy elliott but not quite. A sort of hazy and watery instrumental track with choral vocal snippets, slow beat, cool, piano and very catchy hook. End of the song leads right into the following track Vibe.
Vibe: This is one of my top 3 songs on the album. It has a sort of stereo tremelo that moves pans left to right speaker and gives a very dreamy impression. It is another infectious and catchy slow jam with some vibraphone sprinkled in for a jazzy flavor. Once again the chorus is immediately catchy and memorable and the words are cemented in your memory quickly due to the smooth cadence of Micks vocal delivery.
Jazz: Starts with a minimal instrumental that is carried by Micks opening bars. Track talks about how so many rappers are just actors now, which is not really an original idea, and I can’t help but think that in many regards all rap requires some form of refined writing which is then acted out in a particular way to convey the message of the artist. I really liked the music video that was put together for this track, just go search for “Mick Jenkins Jazz” if you haven’t already seen it.
Canada Dry: All of the tracks on this album have a pretty consistent vibe to them, and Canada Dry is a mesmerizing and refreshing track. Its concept is nothing new, where Mick is basically just calling out phony rappers and proclaiming his realness since way back when. The track is wrapped up (no pun intended) in Mick’s common reference to ginger ale and really stands out with his multitrack vocals sliding right on top of one another with an echo that accents the end of his bars.
I like the line on the track Drink More Water (featuring Ebony) “Somewhere in the world theres a riff raff concert that people are going to swarm for, I never understand that shit, put all the wack rappers in a band and disband that shit, have everyone panicking.
Its interesting to see totally different styles of rap coming from the South Side sound. While I do appreciate Mick’s lyrical ability and smooth flow, I would like to see his tracks be trimmed down a little bit in the future. Almost half of the tracks on this project are over 4 minutes and one is at 5 minutes. Of course that being said, it seems to be common for up and coming hip hop artists to have longer “debut” projects in order to test “The Water[s]” to see what reverberates with their listeners. In a sense its a form of risk reduction. With all the drill rap coming from Chicago right now, its refreshing to see some more lyrical rap coming from Chicago. Some of the instrumentals on this album remind me of the lucid tracks from Kendrick Lamar’s Section 80.