New EP “The Circus” opens decade with stories about chaotic society


Johann Derek Oribello

The set list for “The Circus” runs 20 minutes.

by Johann Derek Oribello, Senior Staff Writer

Illustrative storyteller and talented emcee Mick Jenkins started off the new decade with a bang releasing his new EP project titled, “The Circus.” Known for releasing short EPs that preview the sound of an upcoming album, his latest blends together cloudy, electronic production over vivid storytelling verses that flex his lyrical abilities. 

Released on Jan. 10, the EP consists of seven songs running for 20 minutes and features guest appearances from rap duo Earth Gang and Grammy award-winning producer Hit Boy who is best known for working with artists such as Jay-Z and Kanye West. 

Despite the short time-length of the project, “The Circus” does a brilliant job in chronicling Jenkins’ mindset and thoughts amidst the chaotic nature of society today where police discrimination and racism plague minorities across the nation, hence, the EP’s title. 

The lead single of the project, “Carefree,” directly addresses this issue under an ethereal beat with mellow piano keys. In it, Jenkins paints common situations young African Americans face daily where they’re singled out for their skin color and cannot enjoy carefree leisure activities. 

Jenkins bluntly points towards the fact that his listeners may have certain freedoms that he himself cannot enjoy. With lyrics such as, “If you living carefree, then you probably don’t look like us,” and “I ain’t worried ’bout dyin’ for speaking my mind, they keep on callin’ it tough shit,” it’s clear to see the frustration Jenkins holds. Juxtaposing his frustrations with laid-back production marks “Carefree” as a standout track of the project.

Another standout track is the song, “The Light,” featuring the dynamic rap duo EarthGang. Focusing the message on staying authentic and exploring new highs, the playful approach EarthGang incorporates with their verses compliments the serious nature of the song’s message perfectly. 

Rapper Johnny Venus of EarthGang captures this juxtaposition in the chorus as he sings, “Lately, I’ve been sober, chasin’ new highs,” and “You can be yourself, don’t be shy / Take your time, don’t you rush things.” 

Since the rap duo is planning to tour with the Chicago rapper, it is no surprise to see the two musical acts collaborate together on such a stellar track.

With the mass appeal of rappers showing off excessive lavishes in their raps, Jenkins addresses fans’ expectations for rappers to maintain a high key, flamboyant image. The song “Flaunt” directly tackles this issue as Jenkins reminds listeners he isn’t like most rappers seeking attention. 

Rather, he raps with confidence and pride in maintaining a lowkey and authentic presence instead of trying to project a fake image throughout the song. In the chorus he confronts the fake bravado rappers possess and juxtaposes it with the quiet confidence he carries when he raps, “I don’t even flex like that on the regular/ Bet you hear the muscle when I start my shit, though.” 

Unlike many rappers on the rise in today’s musical climate, none come close to Jenkins when it comes to up and coming rappers deserving of mainstream success in the likes of J. Cole or Kendrick Lamar. The short but sweet aspect of this EP proves to be an outstanding addition to Jenkins’ discography that reveals the potential of his upcoming album.