Sunday, 3 Mar
Village Underground, London
Whether it’s pondering the way water is being used as a political weapon (“The Waters”), the “strange love” that rappers show towards vulnerable women, or even the idea that the internet is our new nicotine (“Is, This Cigarettes?”), Mick Jenkins has made his name off jazz-enthused concept albums that powerfully probe at the collective subconscious. He consistently uncovers answers that push the listener away from the pitfalls of capitalism and onto more righteous paths.
Just like Marvin Gaye’s output in the 1970s, the South Side Chicago-raised rapper and singer-songwriter has prioritized records [2018’s Pieces of a Man, 2020’s The Circus] that feel like pep talks not only to himself but for wider Black America. His discography is filled with astonishing moments of virtue and honesty (on “Vibe” he admitted he missed out on saying goodbye to his grandma before she passed because “I was too busy rapping”). Jenkins’ ultimate goal has been to wake his people up from a slumber and make the dangerous city he emerged from be defined more for its shining intellect and less for the hopelessness of black-on-black violence.
Yet with new album, The Patience, Jenkins experimented with a new approach entirely; something he believes has resulted in career-best music. “A lot of these new songs were made when I stopped focusing on a concept and just wrote spontaneously to the beat,” says the 32-year-old. “It gave me a new level of freedom.” And this freedom has resulted in an exhilarating looseness to Jenkins’ raps, and the feeling you’re listening to an artist who has finally let go of the weight of corporate-driven expectations and said: fuck it.