Mick Jenkins was born in Alabama, but it appears his real learning came growing up in Chicago, a city quickly earning its rise in the rap game with talents like Chance the Rapper, Chief Keef , Alex Wiley and Jean Deaux. Jenkins delivers his third work, “Water[s]”, following 2012’s bandcamp release, “The Pursuit of HappyNess: The Story of Mickalascage.” and his 2014 17-song mix-tape called “Trees And Truths”. This latest project features guests Deaux, No Name Gypsy, The Mind, Ebony and Joey Bada$$. The mixtape was produced by a gang of folks, including OnGaud (back from “Trees and Truths”) and DJ Dahi, who was part of the team that helped to produce Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 breakout “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City”. Jenkins’ mix-tape takes the metaphor of water and pours it across all the tracks: You can find it in some of the song titles like “Dehydration”, “The Waters”, and the transporting opener “Shipwrecked”. There’s also the sound of waves on the beach, lyrics about dying of thirst, and the simple spoken-word intro to “THC” announcing a simple message: “Drink more water.” This approach is interesting because it’s not forced, but rather sprinkled. A listener could apply it to the usual rapper conceit of the record being the musical oasis in a supposed desert of pretenders. But there are deeper thoughts here than that. Water is life. And as Jenkins sings, water is what makes up the majority of the content of the human body. In short, we are water. So, maybe the implication is that giving a record that title is another way of saying everything contained within it is life. “Water[s]” flows all over the place thematically. The song “Vibe” is about getting below the veneer of people and finding out what they’re really about and smoking pot to get there. “Jazz” is an ode to the old greats, where Jenkins rhymes by name: “Talkin’ all that jazz / Talk your shit nigga / That Coltrane / That Charlie Parker / That Charles Mingus / That Frank Sinatra / Talkin’ all the jazz.” The mix-tape also seems to balance between the highly melodic jazzy and R&B-influenced kind of songs like “Comfortable” (maybe the best cut), and harder, edgier, pulsing, rough tracks like “Dehydration and “Jerome”. I prefer the chill, poetic stuff. But stream the album for yourself at the artist’s soundcloud page. — David D. Robbins Jr.