The wise-man rapper, Mick Jenkins, is finally here with his debut project The Healing Component. An album that is as intoxicating as it is filled with water references, Mick Jenkins shows himself to be a modern day James Baldwin as he tackles every aspect of love on the project.
The concept of the project is simple: the healing component is love. Don’t be fooled, this album is not a collection of crooning romantic cuts. Instead, Mick takes his time unpacking love, spreading love, teaching self-love, and addressing the different ways to love a person. Between all of this, he even manages to build in undertones of political commentary. The Healing Component asks a question we’ve all asked: what is love, really? But Mick goes one step further to answer that question as fully as possible, which is why it’s time to stop sleeping and get educated about the layers of love in The Healing Component.
Mick isn’t shy about the concept of the album. From the cover art, to the title, to the direct messages of the opening track “The Healing Component,” Mick foregoes subtlety in his bars with the intent of pushing a message he’s passionate about. The first verse of the opening cut is sharp, preceded by a brief skit where Mick makes it known he’s ready to show us the way. Let me say, Mick is one rappin’ ass rapper. He matches his precise flow to the dips and dives of his aquatic sounding beat right up to the grand horn crescendos that usher in the hook.
The blending of Mick’s smooth voice and technical skill continues into the second track “Spread Love.” This cut was the first single off the album, and features some of Mick’s best rapping to date from the get-go. More so than the title track, this song feels like Mick’s true mission statement. Beyond looking at all the faces of love, “the basis of [Mick’s] message is love,” in whatever form you can muster up. All of this content delivered over a gentle beat, with a lead that sounds like the ripples in a body of water might look.
For all this talk of love, Mick doesn’t forget to incorporate the other side of the coin: hate. Across the album, he throws in some potent lines about race and the legacies of slavery, asking “how could a black man not be confused in this?/Used to hang from them trees, we abusing them now” on “Strange Love.” This track features Mick really delving into the hate that comes with love, discussing the difficulty of self-love for a black man in a racially hateful society.
The commentary continues on the standout single “Drowning,” featuring the incredible instrumentation of jazz outfit BADBADNOTGOOD. Paired with a poignant video, this track makes oppression tangible. Starting off with a hazy verse, the highlight of this single is the provocative refrain. Mick’s bluesy voice over the refrain as he sings “I can’t breathe,” is pitched and chilling. The genuine pain in his voice makes the three words isolating to the point of being terrifying. His introspection over the hook itself, questioning a society that’s holding him down, features his voice returning to his usual deep register. Here we have Mick showcasing some intense attention to detail, attempting to demonstrate how you can regain your humanity by asking important questions as a means of fighting back.
Despite the smooth and lax vibe of the project, Mick keeps the album moving through these interview-esque skits where he speaks on love. These little conversations manage to be pedantic but also approachable. It’s practically a pleasure to hear Mick speak his mind. Each skit feels well placed and doesn’t overstay its welcome, but more importantly, the skips help introduce tracks on the album to keep up the ever-important cohesiveness.
With all its high points, the project does showcase some lapses in judgement. The harsh synth beat on “As Seen In Bethsaida” grates the ear and eclipses most of Mick’s verses. The synth comes in at all the wrong times and dominates the mix without much point. The following track, “Communicate,” features a great house-inspired Kaytranada beat, but also sticks out like a sore thumb from the mood of the album. Though the beats of these two songs don’t hit, their lyrical content is still consistent with the concept of the album.
On the other hand we have the features. It’s obvious Mick took his time selecting the guests for this album, as each artist adds to, and builds on, the warm melodic essence of this project. Noname throws a pepped up, albeit slightly sarcastic, verse on “Angles,” and theMIND graces this project multiple times. Rayvn Lenae takes “Communicate” to another level with her ghostly vocals. Between working so hard to maintain his concept, it’s not to see that Mick didn’t lose sight of the other important factors in putting together an album.
As far as debuts go, The Healing Component is a winner. Mick uses this project to show that he has grown from previous efforts. He’s taken the acclaim from The Water[s] and built a full project around his passion and his signature sound. On this album, Mick does his best to strike a balance between what he knows, and taking some risks with his voice and his singing. The debut does a solid job of piquing interest, evidencing lasting potential, and letting us know who Mick Jenkins is and what he stands for. So you know the drill, stop sleeping, grab your headphones, and let Mick Jenkins’s debut project drop some wisdom on you.