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Mick Jenkins’ “Pieces of a Man” Album Review

Mick Jenkins WRSU Image

The Chicago based rapper, Mick Jenkins, came out with a new album that’ll give any listener peace of mind.  The album titled “Pieces of a Man” mixes raw spoken word poetry with strong, flowing, jazz production from KAYTRANADA and BADBADNOTGOOD, a new school jazz band who adds a modern, dark twist on the classic genre. For me, this album was a glass of fresh water in a sea of salty, cookie cutter rap.

Something about this album feels spiritual, as the flow of Mick and his poetic wordplay allows the album to sound fresh yet old school. Hip-hop and rap nowadays are  filled with rappers who rely solely on the hype and production of the track to keep the listener entranced. This is simply not the case for Mick. This album makes you think while staying away from the stigma of “woke” rap.

“Pieces of a Man” is Mick’s second studio album and he shows no sign of slowing down or losing his touch. In fact, I’m going to call this album secular gospel. Mick’s two tracks labeled “Heron Flow” and “Heron Flow 2” act as an interlude of spoken word where he tackles the identity of the black man and his relationship with the internet. Mick labels this phenomenon “a case of Dot. Dot. Did it. Dot. Dot. Dash, the remorse code”. This remorse code brings light to the lack of real face-to-face communication we have lost sight of in the digital age. This duo of spoken word songs act as a tasteful social commentary to accompany his album. It feels informative rather than pretentious.

This album speaks to the youth, to the black kids who don’t really follow the norms of the current Soundcloud/mumble rap culture, and it speaks to any listener who is just a fan of poetry or a fan of “bars”. Mick’s lyrics always pack substance  and make the listener take a pause and process the actual meaning of the rap. Moreover, the gritty lo-fi hip-hop/jazz production makes this album a friend to anyone who produces or listens to the modern phenomenon of lo-fi jazz. The production of the album contains wacky and wonky samples that make the beats feel warm, cozy, and intriguing. The production is so strong that an instrumental version of this album could have a successful solo release of its own as well.  The union of Mick’s raw writing style with the organic jazz production on the album made it special for me.

The upshot of all of this, is that the album is water that nourishes poetic roses and jazzy flowerbeds. Mick is currently one of rappers who is carrying Chicago’s rap style into new heights. Something peculiar is going on with the artist from the Midwest; this region in particular has been producing music that is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the country. If this album is your first time listening to Mick, please go listen to EVERYTHING else this man has released. It’s all water.

Recommended Tracks: “Heron Flow”, “Stress Fractures”,  “Ghost”, “Understood”    

Album Rating: 8.9/10

Album Review By: Jon Bent

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