Chicago-based MC, Mick Jenkins, has slowly been building to the release of his debut album, The Healing Component. Now it is finally here. Mick is an excellent composer of concepts. This dates all the way back to his 2013 mixtape, Trees And Truths, where he metaphorically compared the understandings of society to the layout of a tree. Mick then followed this up with one of the most revered mixtapes to drop this decade: The Water[s]. It was on this project where he first hinted at the concept of “the healing component”. Throughout the entirety of the tape, Mick used water as a metaphor for truth, and used it to offer some perspective on numerous social topics, mainly pertaining to inner city Chicago life. He then continued to touch on the topic of water on his 2015 release, Wave[s], with a slightly more upbeat and positive tone. The reason I bring up all of Mick’s previous works is because every one of these projects plays a role in the grand scheme of The Healing Component. This album had a lot of anticipation from hip-hop fans, including myself, due to the very fact that this is supposedly the project where Mick would finally go in depth on the very concepts that got him so much attention. I am happy to say that he certainly delivers. With cryptic lyrics and eerie, other-worldly production, Mick Jenkins manages to make a thought-provoking album that, in my opinion, has a serious case for being hip-hop’s album of the year.
To make a long story short, “the healing component” that Mick had allured to is in fact one simple thing: love. From the beginning of the album, all the way up until the end, Mick attempts to break down the various kinds of love one can receive, and the methods in which one can discover and cherish love. One particular track that highlights these attempts is “Strange Love”. On this track, Mick questions how people can claim to have love for one another when they have no problem with hurting/killing each other every day. Mick also brings up this same dilemma in how it pertains to women. We mistreat and misogynize women, yet we claim to “love our sisters”, as Mick puts it. This therefore springs the idea of the song title: “Strange Love”. The track “Plugged” is a beautiful anthem to Mick’s message, with a hook that is almost certain to get stuck in your head. Mick puts himself in the metaphorical position of being your “plug” for “THC”, or love. He makes a couple of religious references on track as well, a theme that was more prominent on this tape than any other Mick Jenkins project I’ve heard. Many of the skits/discussions that appear variously throughout the album reveal Mick’s belief that this “healing component” he speaks of, comes directly from the motives of Jesus Christ himself.
This album is certainly a pilgrimage of sorts. On many of these songs, Mick sounds like a prophet preaching his message upon to the masses. This is certainly the case on the track, “As Seen In Bethsaida”, a reference to the site where Jesus supposedly fed the multitude with simply five loaves of bread and two fish. This track reference meaning possibly goes even deeper, as it seems that Mick is directly comparing the simplicity and value of his message to the offers that Jesus made. Musically, the track is an adrenaline rush. Like I said, Mick sounds like a prophet. His voice rings clear over several rattling high-hats and a pulsating EDM synth. The hook, courtesy of TheMIND, is also awe inspiring. You can almost feel the “sun” Mick speaks of, washing over you as the two and a half minute track accelerates through your system. The preceding track “Drowning”, featuring the jazz band BADBADNOTGOOD, is also a track to remember. Once again, Mick revisits the topic of water, but this time, finds himself struggling to stay afloat in the barrage of truth it has to offer. This track is a builder; production and emotion wise. It starts out looming and quiet, then accelerates at various times to help Mick deliver some potent bars concerning his dilemma with the waters. One of the lyrics in the hook, “I can’t breathe”, is an obvious reference to the last words of police brutality victim, Eric Garner, before he was killed by police. Mick uses the reference to compare the reality of police brutality to the waters that he finds himself drowning in. He then protests the idea of submitting to these realities by stating the lyric: “When the real hold you down, you supposed to drown right? … Wait, wait, that don’t sound right.”
Mick not only expresses his own coming to terms with “the healing component”, but also encourages and lends a hand to those who wish to join him on his mission. A track like “Spread Love”, only makes this statement more obvious. The Sango produced love anthem is a delight to the vibers, and is certain to encourage the behaviors that Mick suggests amongst all listeners alike. The track, “Fall Through”, directly encourages his listeners to try and understand his concepts, rather than to just sing along with the lyrics. He warns, “Cause I might fall through if I catch the breeze, know you probably missed the roots, but I know you seen the leaves.” Lines like these, and many others, may lead listeners and critics to the false conclusion that Jenkins is simply being pretentious. While I can somewhat understand this perspective, I truly believe that you would be applying such adjectives to an individual, who is in fact, the complete opposite. In fact, the final track, “Fucked Up Outro” itself is an ode to the many imperfections that Mick claims to have. One of the lyrics even flat out says “I’m someone with the influence who’ll use that to better the youth, and that don’t make me better than you.”
Speaking as someone who anticipated this album as an amalgamation of all of Mick’s previous concepts and ideas, I can say that what I received, was a well done analysis, and explanation, of these very topics. This album is very powerful. And with the appropriate amount of listens, you will feel this power. Perhaps the reason this album comes off as so powerful is because of the time in which it was made. A time in which our society is more divided than it has been in history. Countless terror attacks, accounts of police brutality, and a frustrating election, have flipped our society into a raging cesspool of fear, bigotry, and most of all, hate. We are clearly a nation that has forgotten how to love. Fortunately, we have albums like these that, at the bare minimum, can begin to guide us down the right path. An album like The Healing Component, is an album we need for not only for hip-hop, but my generation, and others that are also losing faith in our world.
Mick hit the ball out of the park on this one. And hopefully, more and more listeners and critics will come to the same conclusion, and bask in the therapeutic glory that is, The Healing Component.