EP Review | Mick Jenkins – The Circus

This extended play was released on January 10th this year. There was one period from like 2014 to 2016 in which Mick Jenkins was becoming one of my favorite rappers. I still think he’s a very talented artist, but it’s been a long time since I was really super in love with his work. I’m hoping that I’ll really enjoy this project, but I’ve seen a lot of my friends talking shit about it, so that has me a little worried. Then again, I don’t really think they were ever big fans of Mick in the first place, so maybe I’ll appreciate this more than they did.

1. Same Ol’ produced by Hit-Boy

This might be my least favorite track on the project to be honest. I haven’t really decided yet. I don’t care for this track though. I think it’s decent, but I won’t be returning to it in the future. I was really let down by Hit-Boy’s production here. It’s surprisingly flat in my opinion. I don’t really think it’s that bad of a beat, but it just doesn’t impress me that much. Mick only spits one verse on this track, and it’s decent I guess. I’d be lying if I said I was really that impressed by his performance here, but it’s definitely not bad. He did a solid job, but none of the lines were really super attention grabbing. At least his flow was kinda cool. The hook is nothing special. The song is just really uninteresting to me. Nothing about it stands out. Nobody’s gonna bring this track up in a conversation about Mick’s best work. It’s certainly listenable, but it just doesn’t really hold my attention. It’s mediocre to me.

2. Carefree produced by Black Milk

I originally wrote about this track when I discussed the notable singles from Week 1 of 2020. I think it’s a lot better than the opening track, but it’s still far from the best material I’ve heard from Mick. A lot of people have been calling this the best track from this EP, but I strongly disagree. The song is dope though. The production is really smooth, but it does get kinda old after a while, especially on repeat listens. The one aspect of the song that stands out the most to me is Mick’s flow. I think his singing on the hook sounds pretty great too though. My feelings on the song haven’t really changed that much since I first wrote about it, but compared to the opening track this is fire. I fuck with it.

3. The Light featuring EARTHGANG produced by IAMNOBODI & Emmanuel Hailemariam

This is easily the best song on the project in my opinion. This is the only track that I really love. I think the production is fantastic, and the first verse from Johnny Venus is really nice. The lyrics aren’t really that impressive, but he just fits over this smooth beat perfectly. I also love his vocals on the hook. He sounds great. Mick actually killed that second verse.

We blowing smoke between the breeze
The twists are Senegalese
No more Backwoods blown, we ride the rings of memories
We wired the intricacies of our logic, no hands in my pocket
Still got my hand on my weapon
He more Malcolm than Martin, a bit more Baldwin than both
You need a cauldron for mixing a black man’s soul into soup

I think the final verse from Dot is pretty enjoyable, but it’s definitely the least impressive part of the song for me. Mick Jenkins featuring EARTHGANG is the collaboration that I didn’t know I needed. There’s not a single aspect that I don’t like. Again, it’s easily the best song on the project. It’s dope af.

4. Flaunt produced by Da-P

I really like the chill Trap instrumental on this song, and I love the catchy hook from Mick too. There’s only one verse on this song, but I like it a lot. His flow sounds great over this beat. The actual lyrical content isn’t particularly interesting because he’s not really saying anything unique or original.

Move the fuck around, you a regular to me
Don’t act up; niggas talk loud out the jugular
Keep my head down out in public & I’m aced in the club
See you clowns in the Publix, niggas fake with the love

I think one more verse probably would’ve done a lot to make this song stand out more, but this is still one of the better tracks in my opinion. It’s dope.

5. The Fit produced by Bizness Boi, Fortune & Coop the Truth

This is the only other track aside from Same Ol’ that I didn’t care for. I think the production is solid, but the hook is nothing special. Some of the lines really felt like filler.

I can’t quit, I’m too legit

The content just doesn’t really interest me at all either. The Nike line at the beginning of the verse is a little corny in my opinion. I don’t know if that’s just me being harsh though. Someone like Denzel Curry could say that and I probably wouldn’t even think about it. I’ve never really viewed Denzel is a great lyricist though. There’s only one verse on this song, and it’s really not that good. I guess it’s decent though. It’s just kinda dull. That could be said about the song as a whole. The beat gets really old after the first thirty seconds. Nothing about the song stands out. I wouldn’t call it a bad song, but I don’t see myself returning to it at all. I think it’s pretty mediocre.

6. I’m Convinced produced by DJ Fu & Beat Butcha

I think the production on this track is actually pretty cool. The first verse from Mick is solid. The hook is unfortunately nothing special. The second verse is far more impressive than the first one in my opinion.

Ain’t nothing ’round you set in stone, ‘specially not your fuckin’ life
The truth sometimes ain’t nothin’ nice and the lies are always under-priced
That’s why I pitch it overhand, don’t tell me nothin’ you overheard
I know a lot of niggas gon’ understand, I know a lot of niggas won’t hear a word

If he really snapped on one of the verses or just provided a better hook I’d probably like this much more. This is a cool track though. I definitely like it to some extent. It’s pretty good.

7. Different Scales produced by Martin $ky & Chirashe

This song has a decent Jazz Rap beat, but it’s not super memorable. With that said, I think this is probably my second favorite track on the project. The whole thing is just one long verse, and he actually rapped really well here.

They just want the hooks, got me out here fighting sickle cell
Niggas sound like crooks in front of cameras, I hear crickets now
Have some art commissioned more than living off the ticket sales
You for the ‘gram, we weighing this shit on different scales

If this song had more to offer than one good verse I’d probably love it way more than I do. I still think this is one of the better tracks on the EP though. This shit is dope.

This EP is kinda good. I mean, it is good. I like it. It’s just very flawed. When there are only 7 tracks on your project, there isn’t much room for error. Unfortunately there were two songs here that I didn’t care for at all, and only one track that I really loved. If you’re not a Mick Jenkins fan in the first place, there’s little to no chance of you liking this project. This isn’t gonna make anyone like Mick Jenkins more than they originally did. I honestly just really wish he would do more work with THEMpeople again. I think he’s at his best when he’s working with them. However, I also just don’t feel like Mick’s writing is as impressive as it was on projects like The Water[s]. That’s one of my favorite mixtapes ever because he was rapping his fucking ass off throughout the whole project. He didn’t have a single verse on that album that didn’t impress me. Nowadays, most of his verses are just “cool” or “solid.” I’m hoping that this is just a collection of throwaways from a full length project that he’s working on. The best case scenario is him releasing an album later this year or early next year. This project is cool, but nobody’s gonna be talking about it by the time January is over. I enjoyed it though. It’s pretty good.

Favorite Song: The Light
Least Favorite Song: Same ‘Ol


Watch the video below for more thoughts on this project.

B Minus
Grade: B-

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