Written by DeRa Brinson
This Sonic Breakdown will cover Mick Jenkins’s EP Wave[s]. This is the second Mick Jenkins album I have heard; the first album, The Water[s], came out in 2014. I think his first album is a great album from concept to execution, creating a complete atmosphere revolving around and encompassing the nuances of water as a metaphor or allegory from spiritually, physical, and ideological premises. That album stays in heavy rotation, causing anticipation for this EP and his next full album. This review will be presented as usual with a breakdown of each track followed by a conclusion on the album as a whole.
A darker almost sullen feeling is expressed on this track, emulating a similar atmosphere from his previous album. This gives an indication in conjunction with the title of the album that this is a sequel, or maybe a prequel to the sequel, which will be his second full-length album slated to release later this year, from what I have heard. Mick uses an aggressive tone with conviction, allowing the smoothness to penetrate through. There are areas in the production that allude to waves breaking, pushing the aura of the beginning of the album to breaking through water after being under it, a feeling of a buoy balancing the two planes, the surface and what lies beneath.
An uplifting song that has sections reminiscent of Donnie Trumpet’s Surf mixed with The Roots Things Fall Apart. The connection to Surf is appropriate since the trumpet player on this song is Donnie Trumpet, which I found out later during research for this review. The drum section adds the energy, and combined with the trumpet, it gives a reflective, insightful vibe that coincides with Jenkins’s lyrical content. Both Jenkins and Saba divulge that they aren’t asleep to what is really occurring in the world. The drums are so infectious sonically that you don’t want the song to end as the organ concludes the track.
“Get up Get Down”
An up-tempo song that is still grounded, with a lighter atmosphere that is juxtaposed to sections that reflect the darker side of life. The darker side is akin to the struggles we all have to try and improve our environment. Mick enlightens us on what he considers as someone who can have a somnolent effect on others due to their lackadaisical approach to life. Another uplifting song to inspire people to achieve their goals by putting in the work and not waiting for handouts.
Mick has a tone similar to Ludacris here, only in sound, not content or style, during certain sections of the verses. A funk quality is felt through the production and through how Jenkins sings the hook. This is a groovy love song about wanting someone worth loving based on her values and intelligence, qualities other than just looks. Mick is telling women who might want to pursue him that he isn’t a big partier or clubgoer, that he would rather have an enlightening conversation. This is the most accessible or wide-reaching song I have heard from him, but not in a forced manner. I don’t believe he made this song with the intentions of trying to make a radio song. I think he is exploring different sounds and melodies to expand his musical palate.
A smoother jazz-feeling atmosphere is created on this song, where he broaches the subject of selling drugs. The piano reference is used to describe music and drugs. An actual piano can be heard in the production of this song. This is my least favorite track of the entire album.
The most sensual track on the album, that is similar to “Your Love,” has a more accessible sound that I didn’t hear on his last album. Mick Jenkins sings for the entire song with a Bootsy Collins tone over a light, funky, psychedelic production that has some slight sonic properties heard on Snoop Dogg’s “Sexual Eruption.” Jenkins touches on the love and happiness that he wants to give and gain as a result of the connection with a particular woman. I do like the song, but I think if Jenkins limited himself to the verses and let someone else sing the hook, or sang it with someone ese (Charlie Wilson comes to mind), it would have elevated the track to another level.
A 90s inspired sound that is gritty, giving way to a Kanye West mixed 808’s and My Dark Twisted Fantasy ambience. Mick Jenkins describes why this girl became heartless. On this track, I like how Jenkins’s singing of the chorus matches the production, making the gloominess of the beat stand out in comparison to the previous song. This is easily one of my favorite songs due to the execution, allowing me to see the world he created through the auditory experience.
“P’s & Q’s”
A very introspective vibe combined with a calm aggression over a classic hip-hop sound. The guitar evokes an audible exclamation point to cue us in on the theme of being diligent. Mick Jenkins is very clever in his use of words to create the literary device used in the song, basically using all P’s and Q’s while maintaining the structure of the story. He speaks on his competitive nature with music and touches on how people have to do more than speak about change; they have to put action to those words. This is nothing new to hip-hop to use similar literary devices, as seen with Jay Z’s “22 Two’s” or Big L’s “Ebonics,” and my favorite Nas, “Rewind,” but it is an interesting way to showcase his talent. There is a Harry Potter reference on this track and I would be interested to see if anyone else caught it. If you did hear it, leave a comment stating the reference. Mick Jenkins showcases his meticulous word play and how fastidious he is here. This is another one of my favorite songs on this album and from him in general.
A very contemporary or futuristic sound that has some acoustic instruments that add a classical appeal. Somewhat of an Outkast Aquemini aura is felt on the intro and hook. Mick discusses seeing the world for what it is versus what we want to see. The Mind adds a dark, soulful tone to the track. This song is a nice way to end the album, reminding us of the overarching theme or concept of the truth being your truth.
This EP sonically gives the impression of being right on the surface of the water. The Water[s] album lyrically delves deep into the concept of water, from its healing to its strength and elegance, all the way to the sonic properties, creating the feeling of being underwater through various different and interesting auditory techniques that are not obvious water effects. This Showcases that Wave[s] falls short only when in comparison to The Water[s]. Finding the truth is a persistent theme expressed through a plethora of metaphors, similes, and allegories on this entire EP. This is a good EP that stimulates the mind and ears while maintaining my anticipation for his next full-length album.
Next week’s Breakdown will be a double breakdown on Method Man’s The Meth Lab and Tyga’s Fuk What They Talkin About.