Chicago’s Mick Jenkins put on quite a show on a recent Friday night, but he didn’t rap a single verse. Instead, the Music Room at Soho House hosted a listening party with Jenkins and St. Louis painter Hayveyah McGowan, where they described the creative process behind Jenkins’ newest project, “Wave[s]” (release date August 21). With guidance from Fake Shore Drive’s Andrew Barber, Jenkins and McGowan delineated how their collaboration originated.
After spending a year and a half on his previous release,“The Water[s],” Jenkins didn’t feel like the concept project got enough traction from the public—despite its critical acclaim. So he put together this newest project more as a collection of compositions than a record with an “end-to-end” theme, and did so in a matter of months. But he still wanted a consistent artistic through-line, and Jenkins commissioned McGowan to create a large-scale painting inspired by each of the tracks, all of which were on exhibit at Soho House.
As Barber directed the conversation, Jenkins described his thoughts and emphases on each track; then McGowan recounted her painting process, and DJ Greensllime played a portion of each song. On the kickoff cut, “Alchemy,” Jenkins said that he was trying to turn the pencil “lead” of his writing into a “gold”-selling record, but Barber argued that “Your Love” has the strongest single potential and might be the track that cements Jenkins’ position on the hip-hop map; it swings a strong hook on the choruses and signals his new emphasis on singing.
However, his rap is up to his usual stellar standards. On “Piano” and “The Giver” he nicely varies the tempos of his delivery from chorus to verse, and Jenkins’ verbal gymnastics are best exhibited on “P’s and Q’s” (accompanied by a characteristically creative music video, recommended by Barber and posted on the rapper’s website).
Despite the spotlight the paintings received, no plans have been announced for a physical release; but Jenkins indicated that prints of McGowan’s artwork will be on sale at his live performances, including a stop at Chicago’s Metro on October 8. (Craig Bechtel)
Craig Bechtel is a freelance writer and has also been a Senior Staff Writer for Pop’stache. He is also a DJ, volunteer and Assistant Music Director for CHIRP Radio, 107.1 FM, and contributes occasionally to the CHIRP blog. As DJ Craig Reptile, you can hear him play music on the FM dial or at www.chirpradio.org most Sunday nights from 6pm to 9pm. He previously worked in radio at KVOE AM and Fox 105 in Emporia, Kansas, and served as a DJ, music director and general manager for WVKC at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he also won the Davenport Prize for Poetry and earned a B.A. in English writing. Craig has been working in various capacities within the hotel and meetings industry for over twenty years, and presently works at a company that uses proprietary systems to develop proven data strategies that increase revenue, room nights and meeting attendance. In his spare time, he also fancies himself an armchair herpetologist, and thus in addition to a wife, son and cat, he has a day gecko and a veiled chameleon in his collection.