Mick Jenkins warms up the Mod Club

The Chicago rapper heated up a freezing Toronto night

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By: Benjamin Cannon

K let me tell you about last Sunday. It was cold. It was really fucking cold. If I remember correctly, it was -17. It was also windy, and the College St. sidewalks were not salted. So I was honestly surprised to see a line down the block to see Mick Jenkins. While I decided to hide in the Metro across the street from the Mod Club, the hippest of our city’s youth waited outside to get front row standing space. But it wasn’t all bad; when I finally decided to get in line, I looked to my right and witnessed that was spectacle Mick Jenkins trailer. Adorned with icicles and smelling of loud, the trailer visibly rocked back and forth as DS2 blasted from inside.

There were two openers: The first was Stock Marley. From Columbus, Ohio but Chicago based, Marley dropped a song with Mick 5 years ago called “The Trap” which, to this day, is still Marley’s biggest song. But despite the fact that only a portion of the earlybirds new who he was, he immediately captured everyone’s heart with his motivational speeches. Marley opened with his new track “Rooftop in West Hollywood”. The recorded version is mellow and chill, but  Marley brought a ferocious energy to his live performance of this track. Marley was charismatic, able to play the audience like a fiddle thanks to his usage of call-and-response, his jazz-influenced trap beats, and stories about love and believing in yourself. He was the first opener, but he filled the stage like he was the headliner.

Then came Kari Faux. Faux got big in 2014 with the release of her mixtape Laugh Now, Die Later, which got attention from Childish Gambino who remixed lead single “No Small Talk” & Issa Rae, who included two tracks from Faux on the soundtrack to the first season of Insecure. Since then she’s dropped an album and an EP, but neither got much traction. On stage, Faux wasn’t as energetic as Marley, and didn’t quite pull the same reaction from the audience. But that didn’t phase her. She told the audience she was “here to make new friends”, and she made me really nostalgic for the part of my life where I spent too much time on Tumblr and wasn’t worried about budgeting my month so I can not starve. She played all the hits from her mixtape like “Internet” and “Gahdamn”, while also playing singles from her album such as “Supplier” and “This Right Here”. Eventually, her confidence and poise won the audience over. By the time she closed the set , she had the audience rocking with her, and found a couple new friends that night.

There was about ten minutes in between when Faux left the stage and Jenkins’ band walked on. In those ten minutes, the Mod Club turned into a hotbox, and the venue became a hot, smelly room, which is the perfect atmosphere for a hip-hop performance. Mick opened with “Stress Fracture”, my favorite track from his 2018 release Pieces of a Man, before moving on to “Plain Clothes”. Jenkins is a veteran performer, able to move from chill jazz rap to bangers that had the audience pounding the floor in. He asked his fans if they had reggie, and a few seconds later a cloud of smoke emerged from the middle of the room. Everytime Mick Jenkins chanted “Drink More!”, the crowd yelled back, “Water!” (a throwback to his breakout mixtape The Water (S)). Jenkins had the audience vibing; I sat in the lounge area (because everytime I wear timbs my feet start whining), but I could see the crowd jumping and vibing, letting Jenkin’s set enthrall their senses.

Like Marley, Jenkins advocated for self-love and comfort in your own skin. Songs like “Gwendolyn’s Apprehension” & “Pull Up” are about not taking your haters seriously. A lot of his fans took the night’s message to heart; dressing however they want and jumping as high as their body let them. It was wholesome. As I left the Mod Club that freezing Sunday Night, knowing I would have to walk 15 minutes east to get home, I felt reassurance about who I am and what I stand for. A lot of companies have successfully commodified the idea of self-care and self-love, but they’re not interested in their consumers feeling better so much as they’re interested in their consumer’s money. Jenkins’ genuinely wanted you to feel good.

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