Mick Jenkins Sets the Record Straight on ‘Different Sides of Chicago’ for ‘Contacts’ Lyrics
Train of Thought
Mick Jenkins on “Contacts”
As Told To: Robby Seabrook III
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.
“Tell you how I feel inside/They say it ain’t trill enough/They say it ain’t drill enough/I’m coming from the illest side/I just know it’s real enough/Fuck what niggas think of that/The salt is pink, the ink is black/The grass is green, the link is broke/Flowin’ like the sink is broke, the drip is so consistent now/Watch him grow complicit, oh, you flipping now?/Shit hit different, I need scissors now, cutting ties/Taper faded wit’ no clippers, don’t ask no Kawhi/Turn stone cold, you get to fucking wit’ my Oberweis/Stretching out, my shoulders wide/All my burdens boulder size/Mama right off Bouldercrest/I was right off 63rd, you know the vibes/Archetypes and prototypes, I know those guys/Press me, I could go get my shit notarized/Instantly, no Polaroids/Instantly, I’m Jonah, y’all gon’ have to throw me overboard”
XXL: “Tell you how I feel inside/They say it ain’t trill enough/They say it ain’t drill enough/I’m coming from the illest side.” Your music isn’t straight up conscious rap due to its street element. How did you decide to become that kind of rapper?
Mick Jenkins: I think that’s just who I was as a person in the environment that I was in. I wasn’t really gang-related, since that’s what was around me coming up. I definitely had those experiences, definitely had those friends. On the other side, I also grew up in the church with a certain type of discipline. I think that there are a lot of people like that, that exist in both worlds.
“Stretching out, my shoulders wide/All my burdens boulder size.” Do you feel like your load has lightened as you’ve become more successful in your career?
Hell nah. I feel like it’s gotten heavier, just because, even though I progress as a man, I’m married now, I feel like there’s more weight to all the kinds of decisions that I make. I think there’s a lot more at risk in my life in general, not even just my career. Sometimes that can feel like a heavy weight and sometimes you can be very content with what’s going on and it’s very manageable because of the tools that you are using to deal with those things. Sometimes, I use the wrong tools and shit is heavier.
“Mama right off Bouldercrest/I was right off 63rd, you know the vibes/Archetypes and prototypes, I know those guys.” Do you feel people misrepresent your background because of things you don’t rap about?
No. I think they misrepresent a lot of people in Chicago’s background. People think there are different sides in Chicago. It’s not like that at all. I feel like [Chief] Keef got a Chance [The Rapper] in his family and Chance got a Keef in his family. The idea that a Mick Jenkins don’t get down with a Fredo [Santana] or a [Lil] Durk, it’s silly. I went to school with niggas like that. I got my ass beat by niggas like that. I done beat up a few niggas like that.
I think the perception outside of Chicago is it’s two different sides. You might hear some bars like that all over my music, just because it’s a frustrating thing for people to think that we ain’t connected. I’m from Chicago and Chicago is a very specific experience.
Check out more from XXL’s Winter 2021 issue including our cover story featuring the XXL awards board members, Juice Wrld's mother reflects on her son, Big30 gears up for his debut album, a look back at the history of remixing hip-hop songs, Latin trap star Eladio Carrion talks about working with Bobby Shmurda, Tobe Nwigwe's viral movement with a purpose, KenTheMan gets cosigns from 2 Chainz and Snoop Dogg, Bfb Da Packman reflects on six songs in his career, Young Nudy's fresh outlook on his career, Cochise on the blessing of his "Tell Em" success, 10 moments rappers lost valuable possessions and more.