Moment of Truth: Mick Jenkins

Mick Jenkins performs at Leo's in Oakland this Friday


Mick Jenkins
is the very definition of a conscious rapper. Mick and his crew, Free Nation, not only buck the money/hoes hip-hop trend, they preach the spiritual enlightenment of understanding the pitfalls of hip-hop’s social constructs. Only then can you free your mind and self and be truly free (at least that’s how I perceive it).

[jump]  The Chicago MC descends upon Oakland’s Leo’s Music Club to headline Noise Pop’s only hip-hop showcase this Friday night, Feb. 27. At first I was disappointed at the lack of a bona fide hip-hop presence at Noise Pop, but upon speaking to Noise Pop brass and hearing how numerous acts had fallen through, I get it. It’s not easy to put together a festival of this magnitude. But I digress …this is about Mick Jenkins.

The Water[s] mixtape, which Jenkins dropped last year, is a fine display of atmospheric hip-hop. Jenkins’ bassy voice guides us through a journey into his philosophy and the recurring theme of the relationship of water to the certainties that bind us to this society. There’s a slew of notable tracks, like “Healer,” featuring marvelous Chicago vocalist Jean Deaux, and “Jazz,” which might be the most fully formed composition on the brilliantly thorough mixtape.

But by far, the most impactful production Jenkins has released is “Martyrs” (also off of The Water[s]). The track features a hard-hitting video littered with powerful imagery and is the ultimate dissertation against meaningless, materialistic hip-hop.

It’s part Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit” and part Tyler The Creator’s “Yonkers,” with Jenkins wearing a noose throughout the video and builds the imagery of “hanging on for dear life.” He succeeds in making me think hard about his subject matter on just about every track.

Hanging on for dear life
For the love of the money
Hanging on for dear life
Don't that shit sound funny?
Hanging on for dear life
For the love of the gold
Hanging on for dear life
Don't that shit feel cold?

Jenkins will be joined by crazy-talented Pro Era rapper/producer Kirk Knight, Saba, and No Name Gypsy. Look out for Gypsy and Mick’s collab track, “Comfortable,” on stage and peep The Water[s] in its entirety below.

Jenkins performs at 9 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 27, at Leo's Music Club. Get advanced tickets for $13 here or $15 at the door; clubleos.com.

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