Fans following Mick Jenkins’ progression understand that being overlooked isn’t a new concept. Despite the lack of mainstream recognition, his underground fan base remains strong, feasting still on the wordplay and poetic verses Jenkins is known for and included in his latest album, “Pieces of a Man,” released last month.
The 17-track album focuses on the concept of “free thought,” which the self-professed ‘free nation rebel soldier’ uses to address issues in the black community pertaining to what Jenkins refers to as “the man” and the lack of control those within the community have over what situation said “man” puts them in.
In the album’s opening track, “Heron Flow (ft. Julien Bell),” Jenkins tackles the connection between the black community’s lack of formal education and the struggle to overcome systematic problems like poverty and racism that plague them. The lyrics “The remorse code, the damned if I know/Dot dot dit dit dot dot dash means damned if I know,” despite being a reference to an outdated form of communication, has exponentially grown in meaning in the digital age as people move away from expressing themselves without abbreviations.
Listeners might want to replay the album for a second listen to truly digest what Jenkins intended for them to glean from his thoughts on abstract concepts like truth, love, and oppression, but critics may argue the album lacks tracks with true replay value. The rapper, prepared for that criticism, fires back on “Soft Porn” with “Think that’s why those trapped in boxes can’t see where I’m coming from/We just ain’t there mentally.”
You be the judge: should Jenkins dumb down his verses so listeners can clearly understand his message or should he stay true to the craft that placed him in the the underground spotlight? One thing is certain: Jenkins’ lyrical skill is still far above other “freshmen” rappers. You might just have to listen again to make sure of it.