Before releasing his breakout mixtape Trees & Truths in 2013, peerless rapper Mick Jenkins worked in fashion, poetry and the justice system. Raised on neo-soul and contemporary Black gospel, Jenkins has steadily built his one-of-one place in hip-hop — and music in general — over the course of increasingly excellent releases.
Last year’s album The Patience (an Exclaim! Staff pick for 2023) might be his crown jewel. Anchored by slick, live instrumentalism and an eclectic approach to drum programming, the record seamlessly flows through laid-back vibes that let Jenkins create his best verses to date. Peppered with culinary wordplay and symbiotic guest verses from Freddie Gibbs, J.I.D and Vic Mensa, it’s a lush and lean work where most tracks are shorter than two-and-half minutes.
Speaking of Vic Mensa, both he and fellow Chicagoan Chance the Rapper have been supporters of Jenkins since his earliest days. The three combined their distinct identities on the standout single “Crossroads” back in 2013. A few other non-Patience tracks to start out with are “Jazz” (from The Water(s) mixtape and which has 80+ million streams on Spotify), “Carefree” (from 2020 album The Circus) and two tracks featuring serpentwithfeet (“Scottie Pippen” and ”Rug” from 2021 record Elephant in the Room.)
Get a teaser of the elegant power Jenkins brings to the stage by watching his Tiny Desk (Home) Concert for NPR, shot back in 2021. Remember, this is just a preview — Jenkins is an artist who refuses to not keep getting better, and we’re sure to see that for ourselves when he makes his Sled Island debut, performing with a full band at The Palace Theatre.