Favorite Track: "Carefree" Least Favorite Track: "The Fit"
Despite being nearly a veteran MC at this point, many are still unaware of the name and the face that is Mick Jenkins. His jazzy 2014 debut project, The Water (S), was released to wide critical acclaim but it seems as if many people haven’t heard anything from him past that point. In a way his new EP, The Circus, seems like a response to his lack of name recognition. The very first bar he spits on the opening track, “Same Ol”, recalls how he steps into rooms and people don’t know who he is. Throughout his career the tier at which Jenkins raps at has always been very impressive, and he manages to improve with every new project he releases. Yet, The Circus feels like a prime example as to why I believe Jenkins still faces this lack of mainstream appeal. Lyrically the EP is dense, masterful, and poetic, yet somehow the writing still hits sections where it feels a bit dry, and underwhelming. Jenkins doesn’t seem to possess the song writing or hook-based style that you need to in addition to your lyrical ability to currently break into the mainstream of conscious rap. Guys that currently hold that position (Kendrick, Joey Bada$$, Vince Staples, ect.) always contain a blend of both, while Jenkins seems to have only mastered one half of the puzzle. This however, didn’t make The Circus any less enjoyable for me, it is simply why I believe the tracks off it will never receive radio play. This EP clocks in at only nineteen minutes with seven tracks, and is Jenkin’s shortest project yet. Much like all of his other work, The Circus is lyrically dense and full of amazing bars, and double entendres. However, “much like his other work” is also a way you could describe this EP. It’s a very spacey, mellow, lyrically dense, and by the numbers release for the Chicago rapper, and like most of his other material it’s mostly enjoyable. He has just done this before. Appropriately Jenkins has described The Circus as simply a step in the road; “a prelude to my forthcoming album”. So what comes next will be the real test, but this EP serves as a decent appetizer. No different than anything Jenkins fans are used to, really quite typical, but still delicious enough to hold you over until the next course.