Mick Jenkins – ‘The Circus’ EP review: a delightfully dainty record that leaves us longing for more

After the huge success of 'Pieces Of A Man', alternative hip-hop hero Mick Jenkins takes it easy with a breezy, small-but-perfectly-formed EP

Picture this: the year is 2014, and you’re listening the fluid rhymes of Mick Jenkins on his fourth mixtape ‘The Water[s]’. With the nonchalant chimes of piano keys, he sends you away to a dreamy, fantastical world. Well, get ready to return to that place: his latest project, ‘The Circus’, boasts similarly therapeutic sounds.

Often mentioned alongside Smino, Saba, and Noname as the pioneers of new Chicago rap, Jenkins harnesses the same grit and quirkiness associated with his hometown. He packages and sells it on as voguish hip-hop tracks ready to distract you from modern strife.

The seven-track EP explores his life in the southside of the city, as well as the struggle of being in demand. Jenkins echoey vocals, laid over the flutters of high-pitched piano notes, create an ambient feeling that lower your eyes and caress your mind – they’re basically a musical joint. …Off the drugs… off the dranks… off the vibes,” he purrs. Mick Jenkins creates the space to “let [you] breathe”.

The carefree vibes spill over into the next track, the astral ‘The Light’, which features feted Atlantan duo EarthGang. Enlisting hip-hop’s budding hippie-styled duo, Jenkins raps over a sparse instrumental full of airy 808s, Speaking in tongues, Jenkins and EarthGang delivers cryptic lyrics that somehow make sense, even if they sound jumbled up like a deck of cards: Lately I’ve been sober, chasing new highs / Cut the chord to my bungee.

After the huge success of his second critically-acclaimed album like ‘Pieces Of A Man’, this small EP steps into the big boots it needs to fill before Mick Jenkins’ next outing. For all its many qualities, this delightfully dainty EP is not enough to carry us through 2020 – we’ll definitely need another project before this cherished EP gets overplayed.


Release Date: January 10

Record Label: Cinematic Music Group