It’s been a while since we’ve done this. The last notable 10×10 review we’ve done on TheREDEFINED gave us a bit of heat, since we received notices from Glassnote to take down the audio. We fell away from it and went back to traditional ideas, but it’s always been a favorite review format of mine.
Turns out, it’s been a favorite for ZillaNoise.com’s Editor-In-Chief, Giselle (@HeyImZilla) as well, so we’ve decided to combine forces again to make this a (semi) regular thing for notable releases. If you don’t know what this is, then no worries… I’ll explain.
Two writers give ten different thoughts that comes across their brain while listening to the music, and then cap it off with a concluding summary at the end of the “review.” It’s a different way of presenting information (and personality, huah!) but it helps to show the thought process of the each person that presses play, and it also gives – at times – two different viewpoints for a more well-rounded review (her words are in normal font, mine are in orange).
So now that we’ve gotten the formalities out of the way, let’s get to it. Mick Jenkins is one of the doper underground emcees that you may or may not have heard about, and his recent project, Wave[s], has been making the rounds on our timelines. The timing couldn’t be better. If you rock with what you read, be sure to follow us (@TheREDEFINED) and ZillaNoise (@ZillaNoise) on Twitter – or the E.I.C’s personal accounts (@K1ngEljay / @HeyImZilla) myself and stay tuned for the next one that’ll be debuting on HER site, ZillaNoise.com.
Teamwork make the dream work.
The 10×10 Review
[Zilla] Is it bad that I immediately thought I accidently played a Kendrick Lamar track when I pressed play on “Alchemy”? Despite its familiarities, the intro track prepares a solid foundation for the lyrical expectations on Wave[s].
[Eljay] It’s interesting to me how I approach Mick Jenkins’ music; in the past, I’ve listened to his songs and although there’s no denying the talent, nothing truly jumped out to grab me. I felt like the music wasn’t for me and just moved on, until Wave[s]. This is the first project that I’ve liked from him in it’s entirety, and it may be more because of the vibes than anything.
[Zilla] Truly, can Donnie Trumpet do no wrong? With newcomer Saba blessing us with a verse along with hypnotizing vocals from Sean Deaux, “Slumber” easily works its way up to one of the best ones on this project.
[Eljay] First time I heard this, I was drinking Dasani. Completely unintentional, I promise.
[Zilla] As the third single off of Wave[s], it’s obvious that Jenkins is using “Get Up Get Down” to solidify his position as the next to blow up from the underground music world. “We didn’t come for Gold Line, from that Southside Chicago, I got that, I can’t go, ma, I’m still underground, pay attention, that’s a gold mine.”
[Eljay] One of the first things I’ve realized while listening to this album may surprise you. Believe it or not, Mick Jenkins can rap, man. I rock with how he delivers on tracks, and joints like the intro (“Alchemy”) reinforce that.
[Zilla] Smoothly transitioning from the previous track, the KAYTRANADA-produced groove “Your Love” is a pleasant switch-up from Jenkins’ usual rap flow. In what sounds like a nostalgic, summertime night ride, the track adds a party vibe to the album.
[Eljay] Mick Jenkins, Donnie Trumpet, Saba, and Sean Deaux need to make more music together. A genuine surprise in “Slumber”, and so early in the tracklisting, too? Incredibly dope song that needs more shine, perhaps?
[Zilla] The Mick Jenkins/Thempeople combination continues to prevail as Jenkins’ comfort zone with their fourth collaboration on this project. While short but sweet, “Piano” is definitely one of the standout tracks on Wave[s] with a hook that is bound to get stuck in your head.
[Eljay] The multidimensional production (production that switches during the play into a completely different direction) continues to be a staple in new releases, and that’s evident all throughout Wave[s]. I could make some poetic comparison to how water goes from tranquil to rushing when stirred or provoked properly, but that’s just too easy. Unless that’s how he meant it to be, then in that case… The multidimensional production reminds me of… eh…
Nevermind, I ruined it.
[Zilla] While Jenkins’ rapping abilities are one to make a note of, it’s his singing abilities that really steal the show. Between “Your Love”, “The Giver”, and “40 Below”, Jenkins is able to show off his vocals in a way that doesn’t overdo it while still leaving the audience wanting more.
[Eljay] Initially wasn’t sure if I liked Mick’s singing voice, but it works here, especially on “Your Love” and “The Giver”, which have distinct vibes to it that makes it easy to rock to. It’s dope to see that he has a few styles he can bring out of his pocket for times like this.
[Zilla] “40 Below”, jammed in between upbeat tracks “The Giver” and “P’s and Q’s”, uncomfortably changes the direction of the project and not in a good way. A more fitting option would have been to shorten the track to an interlude or leave it out altogether.
[Eljay] I think “40 Below” is one of the select tracks here that I didn’t enjoy at all. The concept was nailed how he wanted it to be, but it didn’t resonate for me at all. Maybe it’s just me.
[Zilla] Despite certain elements from each track that make them notable, there seems to be a lot of filler material throughout the project. Whether it’s lyrics, productions, or entire songs (side-eyes “40 Below”), there does not seem to be a cohesive flow to the project which could hinder Jenkins in the long run.
[Eljay] The flow of this project feels decisively different than The Water[s], but that’s not a bad thing in this case. I was one of the few that truly didn’t vibe with the first project, so hearing the change in pace is refreshing for me. Again, it’s dope to see that he has a few styles he can bring out of his pocket for times like this.
[Zilla] Lyrically, “P’s and Q’s” is one of the most outstanding tracks on the EP. Jenkins’ attempt to create a concept track using alliteration as a literary device showcases his ability to lyrically be better than many of the rappers currently on the scene.
[Eljay] The lyricism was on point the entire time as he seemed to go with the flow after the first few tracks in the playlist, but that’s accelerated with “P’s & Q’s” and “Perception.” Arguably the best two tracks on the entire project, Mick goes off on the former, while the vibe from the last one coasts us out of the brief, nine-track project with a bang. I actually wish “Perception” was about a minute longer… I’m a fan of extended outros when they’re done as well as this one.
[Zilla] As most instrumental symphonies do, Wave[s] does come to a sweet conclusion with a closing track featuring The Mind. Coincidentally, some of Jenkins’ best rapping on the whole EP, next to literary wordplay on “P’s and Q’s”, is displayed in his one verse on this track.
[Eljay] To be honest, I actually would’ve liked another track or two as well. The project tops out before the 30-minute mark, and although it feels like a complete project, it would’ve been nice to get another RAP track from him, but maybe that’s what The Water[s] was for?
The Wrap Up…
[Zilla] To say that I have ever listened to an entire Mick Jenkins project prior to Wave[s] would be a misleading statement. My introduction to the Chicago rapper was during a Chance the Rapper binge back in 2013 when I first heard his collaboration track “Crossroads” featuring Chance and Vic Mensa. Skimming through his previous projects The Water[s] and Trees and Truths prior to reviewing this one, I did find several gems and realized that since then, it’s obvious that Mick is slowly but surely starting to find his groove in the music industry as far as production, flow, and overall lyricism. Whether or not he’s fully grasped it though, is up for debate.
Despite his growth, and the plethora of standout tracks on this project, there still doesn’t seem to be a track that could possibly propel Mick Jenkins to the forefront of the hip-hop game. Fortunately, every rising star moves at its own pace and the only way to see how bright this one shines is to keep following its path. 2016 looks wide open Mick, it’s yours for the taking.
[Eljay] I’ve mentioned this in various ways before, but not quite as blunt as I’m about to now. Mick Jenkins reminds me a lot of other artists that’s finding their lane in music; there’s a lot of dope moments here, but there’s a lot of filler as well, and that filler holds him back from resonating with me as much as I want him too. I’m obviously in the minority here; so many others rock with his music more than I do, and that’s dope to see. However, I don’t think I’ve ever given an artist as many spins as Mick, trying to let the music settle in, and just attempting to see if I was listening with the wrong set of ears on (that happens sometimes; some music needs reviews, and some music’s made for you to just enjoy without going all
RapGenius on it).
In this case, it’s a feeling thing; Mick’s music feels dope, but there’s something about it that’s not quite there yet, and – as others have said – it could be him still growing as an artist. That’s a good thing, and I can promise that as long as he’s making strides to better himself, I’ll sit with any project he puts out. I want hungry artists to be successful, in the end, and I don’t see any real reason as to why Mick can’t ascend higher… Can you?
The REDEFINED Rating
3.5 out of 5