Jared Star Trek

DJ Red drinks more water for this review. Artwork by Sarah Faulkner.

- Jared Chesnut - BlazeRadio DJ/Operations Manager
redc@uab.edu

Disclaimer: Red Bull kindly and generously provided transport, lodging, and access to Mick Jenkins’ performance in Nashville. That said, the views and opinions of the album are solely those of the author.

My first exposure to Mick Jenkins was a cram study session ahead of his October gig for Red Bull Sound Select in Nashville. For whatever reason his name was one that I hadn’t really paid attention to around the studio. That said, what little I had time to hear from the Huntsville native set up some solid expectations, which were absolutely met on a cold October night in the packed full Exit/In. Between a constant flow between styles, messages, and a treatise to “drink more water,” Jenkins carried a charisma on-stage with him that boosted his material. It was after that fact that I got a hold his late September release “The Healing Component.”

At first listen there are some key themes that find their way through the vast majority of the album: water, religion and faith, and, if the title of the album and opening track wasn’t clear enough, a profound appreciation of weed. Most of the lyrical content is a mix of conflict, race, religion, and addressing a world divided by an insistence on maintaining a positive mental attitude. It’s inner peace from equal parts THC and Jesus. Jenkins displays a pensive, almost introverted approach to his verses that read like wisdom from a soul far older than his 25 years. Throughout the album there’s a very straightforward, simple message: in the presence of hate, spread love.

Jared Star Trek

Mick Jenkins on stage in Nashville's Exit/In. Photo courtesy of Will Clifton.

It’s that obsession with that key necessity of life that also impacts the album’s sonic content. There’s a near constant ebb and flow of styles, from the bluesy, chain gang spiritual-esque “Drowning” and its deep tones to “Spread Love” and its early '90s R&B inspired MIDI keys, and everything in between. The album takes a broad approach in regards to style, which plays to Mick’s comfort switching between singing over guitar riffs and rapping to quasi-EDM beats. At the core of THC, however, is a constant theme of water. A majority of the album’s 15 tracks are prefaced by chopped, screwed, and distorted interview clips that almost feel like they become clearer as the ending gets closer and Jenkins’ definition of “water” is further detailed. In both lyrical content and production that theme is extolled in its versatility: “Drowning” and “F!@#$ Up Outro” feel like being dragged under the tide, while in “Fall Through” the track escalates to a rush through some rapids. By the time “Angles” comes up and Chicago rapper Noname drops some spoken verse delivery of her bars, water’s already had a clear description: part font of vitality, part powerful obstacle, part fun trip and in its own right a prevalent and necessary part of the world comprised of multiple elements.

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