Thomas Johnson knows that hydration is the key to success.
The adage goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It’s true, sure. If you’re capable of unwavering quality, why not milk a winning formula? Tim Duncan’s been doing it for 20 years. For Mick Jenkins, his last two high profile projects have been conceptualized around H20; its healing properties, destructive tendencies, and necessity absolute. They’ve been as solid as collections of songs on water can be, but now, on his second EP on the subject, and with another full-length coming, his well runs the risk of going dry.
Barely seven and a half minutes long, it’s hard to call Sip! an EP, though the care given is as meticulous as any could be. Both “Grenade Theory” and “$3,000 Advice” were produced by ThemPeople, who handle both production on The Water[s], the near entirety of Wave[s], and feature frequent hook-man theMind. Mick Jenkins is better on a technical level than almost everyone, and his conviction makes him one of rap’s best young talents. Despite this, hearing the same references to liquid worth compared to gold, his love of ginger ale, and the same urges to stay hydrated are beginning to tire. So, taking into account the brevity, collaboration among the three comes as saving grace. Songs including at least one (“Dehydration,” “Alchemy”) or both (“Shipwrecked,” “Perception”) rank as the best in Mick’s catalogue, and while the two-track Sip! may fall just behind those, it triumphs as a melding of the sensibilities apparent on the last two albums.
“Grenade Theory” steers more towards the weighty themes of The Water[s] but never flounders. Meanwhile, “$3,000 Advice” works the club angle of Wave[s], spinning sweet talk at the water bar. Jenkins, of course, remains consistently irked and weary as ever, but his flow has smoothed out a bit, crashing at times like waves—a light trickle at others. theMind’s caustic singing—drowning in distortion—closes the gap between ThemPeople’s murk and Mick’s brutish delivery. A bridge of troubled water, if you will.
Still, as with nearly all his recent outings, Sip! is a great listen. The formula works just fine and though the stream of ideas may not be snaking all over the place, it’s far from stagnant.