Released on 29 June 2016
On June 29, hip-hop extraordinaire Mick Jenkins dropped his new melanin-praising single, Sunkissed, featuring the low-profile artistry of theMIND. This isn’t the first time these two have come together on a track. The poignant duo has been corresponding since the days of Mick Jenkins’ first project The Waters, having collaborated on the rippling opener, Shipwrecked, and again on Dehydration. He was enlisted again on Waves for the finisher, Perception. TheMind surfaced on Joey Purp’s iiiDrops, landing the feature after some embellishing features on Kirk Knight’s Late Knight Special and Nyck Caution’s Disguise the Limit. After cultivating quite the impressive repertoire, it was high time that theMIND released his initial project.
Just a few days after the summer solstice, theMIND dropped his debut release Summer Camp, a melancholic summer soundtrack. With features from NoName, Donnie Trumpet, Towkio and Sean Deaux, the 11-track album is zealously packed and animated, offering a glimpse into a possibly new direction for discordant hip-hop. In an interview with Noisey, theMIND gave some insight into the mindset of the project, describing it as a concept album (“this cool little adventure that I created between me and this girl”). The project, which was preluded with the release of two beckoning singles, Mercury Rising and Pale Rose, surfaced on June 29, the same date as Sunkissed.
Zarif Wilder, the man behind the moniker, is a Them People affiliate who emerged out of the Chicago hip-hop scene following a move from Philadelphia. Them People, a production group from Chicago, has been the kingpin in crafting the majority of the city’s formerly underground hip-hop. The group’s done production work for Mick Jenkins, Donnie Trumpet, Chance, Alex Wiley and plenty more.
Them People’s production helped to weave together theMIND’s uniquely terraformed album, creating a diverging landscape in the harmonious world of hip-hop. The vocal distortion and caustic synths invoke rippling feelings of futility on a quest for companionship. The words string together feelings of conflict yet reach out in the ultimate pursuit of happiness — it’s beautifully confounding, and intentionally so. The album is far from languid, opening with the easy cadence of Summer Camp. In Peace is a laid-back pointer to optimism, leading smoothly into the despondent Mercury Rising.
The name Summer Camp provides us with a framework of expectations, including the feelings of bliss and sorrow, fun and finality. TheMIND has been an effective feature in the past, and the materialization of his breakthrough project is reflective of his burgeoning potential. The sound is singular and effective, branding itself into the mind of the listener and fervently making its mark upon us.
A zealously packed and animated album, offering a glimpse into a possibly new direction for discordant hip-hop.