Breakout Chicago hip-hop artist Mick Jenkins to make waves

Luke - Takahiro Omura

Concert correspondent Luke Jarzyna.

Luke Jarzyna

jarzynal@grinnell.edu

Rising Chicago MC Mick Jenkins will perform in Gardner Lounge this Friday night. The show will feature opening act Hurt Everything, a rap trio also based out of Chicago.

Like many other young rappers, Jenkins has made a name for himself as a prominent voice in hip-hop music by releasing mixtapes online and touring. In 2014, Jenkins released his fourth mixtape, “The Water(s).” This release proved to be Jenkins’ breakout album. The 15-song collection features collaborations with Noname Gypsy, Joey Bada$$ and others. Critics responded to the album with almost universal positivity and acclaim.

Many of the beats on the album incorporate elements of jazz music. These warm inflections pair well with Jenkins’ deep, warm baritone. With an undeniable sense of purpose, Jenkins delivers verses that address weighty issues without sounding preachy. Listening to “The Water(s)” provokes one to think of some other bright stars to come out of the Chicago scene like Chance the Rapper. Jenkins’ recent collaboration with Twista and Hurt Everybody, called “Stay Awake,” appears a promising omen for future success.

Jenkins is a part of a rap group called Free People, whose other members focus on unflinching engagement with existential topics related to truth and humanity. On his latest releases, Jenkins pursues the goals of Free People with his ruminations on water. The album cover to “The Water(s)” shows Jenkins deep in a pool of water, nearly drowning. Clearly, Jenkins thinks that people are in need of a reminder to look closer and desire more from the world. Water thus represents something simultaneously elusive and excessive.

Jenkins has commented that water serves as a metaphor for truth. What makes Jenkins such an appealing arbiter of this message is the fact that he implicates himself as one of the people who occasionally rejects water. When he writes that people need to drink more water, it functions like a mantra: a message that he needs just as much as his listeners.

In August 2015, Jenkins released his first official EP, “Wave(s).” This release features collaborations with Donnie Trumpet and Saba, prompting more comparisons to Chance the Rapper. Earlier this spring, Jenkins performed at SXSW in Austin, Texas. His first official LP will be released this summer.

The concert will be held tonight, Friday, April 15, at 9 p.m.