Raised on the Southside of Chicago, but born below the Mason-Dixon line (Huntsville, Alabama, to be exact), the blues lies at the center of Mick Jenkins’ music. Historically, it has been the blues (and its stylistic cousin, gospel) that have acted as the animating core of all black music that has followed it: jazz, rock and roll, R&B and hip-hop. Throughout the shifts in popular music, the blues has remained, like a ghost, giving voice to the struggle, pain and transcendent joy of black American culture.
Over the course of the past decade, hip hop in particular has evolved to a point where synthesis and advanced musical programming techniques have replaced sampling, with more emphasis being placed on creating futuristic soundscapes and less on repurposing the music of the past. For the first time in the history of American popular culture, we are witnessing a mainstream black music that isn’t reliant on the influences of the blues and the gospel sound of the church.
Much like his contemporaries in Chicago’s incredibly fertile hip-hop scene (Chance The Rapper, Noname, Jamila Woods, Saba and others), Jenkins has bucked trends, filtering his deep, emotionally honest hip hop through the prism of older black musical forms, each song rich with spirit and triumph. On Friday, April 28th, Jenkins will bring his sanctified take on contemporary hip hop to the stage of Philly’s Theatre of the Living Arts.
Throughout his 2016 full-length The Healing Component, Jenkins used his introspective songs as a vehicle to explore the quintessentially human themes of self-destructiveness, love and redemption. Sonically, the album cast a wide and exploratory net ranging from the Gospel-tinged trap anthem “Spread Love” to the respiring, Psychedelic dirge “Drowning” (feat. BADBADNOTGOOD). Armed with an energetic live presence and a battery of songs that flow between woozy, bittersweet vocal hooks and passionate raps, Jenkins promises to dig deep into the heart of the blues and leave it all on stage.
Watch the stunning video for “Drowning” below and get tickets and more information on Mick Jenkins’ TLA show at the XPN Concert Calendar.