Mick Jenkins at L'Astral, Jan 28 2019

Mick Jenkins stopped in Montreal to promote his newest album, Pieces of a Man. The album is a homage to legendary poet and artist, Gil Scott-Heron, borrowing the title of Scot-Heron's debut album.

Jenkins opened with the track “Stress Fracture” where he received vocal-assistance from longtime collaborator, theMIND. The slow burning track was an indication of where the concert was headed. It was a mostly muted affair with no huge mosh-pits or bangers one might expect from a hip hop show.

Mick Jenkins is different. His music isn’t intended to be hard hitting. Instead, it tries to be a learning process, full of lessons and knowledge Jenkins has to offer. The album focused on themes such as self reflection, consensual sex, and, of course, weed. The one (and only) problem with concerts that focus on lyrics is that the instrumentals can sometimes overpower the vocals. This happened only a few times, but it was enough to ruin the immersion that Jenkins tried valiantly to bring.

Midway through the concert, Jenkins took a detour from performing songs off Pieces of a Man to perform hits from his previous projects. The crowd (understandably) lost control when he started to play “Jazz” off his most popular mixtape, The Water[s]. In an otherwise quiet concert, this performance livened up the crowd quite a bit.

While his rapping is almost always the reason listen to Jenkins, he demonstrated his singing chops when he performed his most pop-sensitive song off his new album, “Plain Clothes.” The chorus of the song saw him trying his best to hold the melody with some help from theMIND. Whether autotune was involved or not is irrelevant because the performance of the song was among the best of the night.

The end of the concert was a bit awkward. To rile up the crowd, Jenkins began playing “514”, a tribute to Montreal and asked the crowd to sing along. Unfortunately, the crowd didn’t know the lyrics as well as Jenkins hoped. However, they tried their best, singing the chorus somewhat well before he veered off into the next song.

Overall, Mick Jenkins put on a good show at L’Astral. He brought energy, fierce raps, and a true willingness to liven up the crowd. Despite some technical hiccups and an awkward performance dedicated to the city, Jenkins put on a valiant performance demonstrating in full force just how great his rapping actually is.

Louis Pavlakos is the host of  Trappin' in Traffic, CJLO's newest hip-hop show, every Tuesday at 5:00 p.m.