Review Summary: Step into The Water[s] and be refreshed. “Water more important than the gold. / People for the gold. / Everybody do it for the gold. / People save your soul.”
It’s a statement likely unheard from most other prominent hip-hop artists today. From these lines alone, it’s clear that 23 year old Mick Jenkins understands what is truly at stake. His brutally honest confessions pepper these 15 tracks with enough emotion and sincerity for the listener to be mostly on board (pun intended) with his moral stance; even if he does have a tendency to drill it into the listener with rather frequent repetition. His bars are consistently delivered with the kind of passion and power that calls to mind the flow of Kendrick with a bit more of a socially conscious delivery. His thought-provoking messages elevate his work to an entirely different arena than Chicago peers like Chance the Rapper and Chief Keef. He laments the empty success of some of his peers with lyrics like “I couldn’t afford to get my girl into this open mic that I performed for...But somewhere in the world there’s a Riff Raff concert that people gon' swarm for."
It’s more than jealousy at work-Jenkins clearly has much more to offer today’s generation than most of his peers who treat their body of work as a joke or use it to perpetuate self-destructive lifestyles. Joey Bada$$ and NoNameGypsy put in some noteworthy guest appearances here, as well as some well used hooks from Ebony and Jean Deaux.
Sonically, the beats used on this tape match the theme of water perfectly. Everything is slowed down and airy, offering an immersive experience that creates the sensation of being underwater. Opener “Shipwrecked” boasts a fantastic shift in the beat about half way through that brings with it Jenkins’ intense delivery. OnGaud kills it again, just as he did on Jenkins’ debut Trees & Truths
, showing up for 6 of the 15 tracks and creating the kind of tension necessary to captivate listeners from start to finish.
Today’s hip-hop culture seems to have largely lost the kind of purpose and inspiration it once had. You don’t hear many rappers today with any kind of substantial message other than to feed a culture of excess and materialism. But where other artists give their fans toxic lyrics about empty riches and self-destruction, Mick Jenkins offers his fans hope and inspiration. He sees the world for what it truly is, never sugar-coating or offering delusional fantasies of fame or fortune. His music is as refreshing as, well, water. This project cements Jenkins as not only a skilled lyricist but also a great storyteller and a technically proficient songwriter. Hip-hop needs the kind of brash, no bullshit messages that Jenkins has to offer.
So, have you
drank enough water today?