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Review: Mick Jenkins - Pieces of A Man

Since his debut in 2012, Mick Jenkins has been steadily rising in the world of Hip Hop. This Chicago-based has two EPS, two albums, and a number of mixtapes under his belt. For the short amount of time he’s been around, Mick Jenkins has a lot of work to show for it. His first EP, The Water(s), introduced the mainstream to his laidback, artful style. With songs like “Jazz” and “Vibe,” he clearly communicated his efforts to offer a ‘chill’ rap experience. With every release since then, Mick Jenkins has been honing his craft, and his newest release speaks to his mastery.

Pieces of a Man carries the Jenkin’s traditional lofi, jazzy style found in previous works. “Stress Fracture” is a perfect example of this. The track is stripped down to its core elements, and laid over with a vinyl-like effect, giving it an overall ‘bedroom/DIY’ feel. On this track, just like many others, his delivery is sounds halfway between a hyped up flow, and a slow spoken word, giving his music such a unique lyricism to it.

The synthpop nature of “Gwendolynn’s Apprehension” makes this sound like a collaboration with HOMESHAKE, rather than a straightforward rap beat. The chorus of the song is inspired from Gwendolynn Brooks’ 1959-poem “We Real Cool.”

“We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Die soon.”

The poem is short and to the point. It un-romanticizes the idea of dropping out of school, saying it’ll lead to a dead end. Jenkins extends this poem to his own life, and uses it to relate to him feeling like an outcast.

Throughout the album, Jenkin’s flips his flow, and packs every song full of fun lines. “This is a Game of Thrones, all I see is Cerseis,” on “Grace and Mercy” and, “of course I’m drinking my water,” he says on “Reginald,” referencing his EP, The Water(s). Plenty of the lines are full of humor, and help break up some of the darker tones of the album.

Ghostface Killah makes an appearance on “Padded Locks.” His rough and upfront delivery style is perfect for a Mick Jenkins track. The added production by KAYTRANADA makes this one of the most weighted tracks on the album. The soul of this track comes from the backing synth loop, sampled from BADBADNOTGOOD’s “Speaking Gently.” The instrumental post-bop group has worked with Mick on his previous album, as well as releasing a full album in collaboration with Ghostface Killah, called SOUR SOUL. The familiarity between artists on this track shows, and adds to its overall cohesiveness.

Pieces of a Man is the rapper’s most introspective and in-depth album to date. Each album he has released has expanded on the last, enhancing what works, and tossing aside what doesn’t. The features of this album are great, and add so much value to the album. Traditionally, Jenkins has more ‘soulful’ artists feature on his music, giving his songs great melodic components. This album is lighter and more playful than past releases, and offers plenty sides of Mick we haven’t seen before. This album exudes virtuosity, and is definitely in the running for some of the best music to come out this year.

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