Video Analysis: Mick Jenkins-Drowning ft. BADBADNOTGOOD
Mick Jenkins is back again with a new cinematic video entitled “Drowning.” Mick Jenkins has been working hard since his 2014 mixtape release The Water[s] followed by his EP Wave[s]. This new video drowning has a highly profound message regarding our society today, despite the videos antebellum southern setting.
The video starts with a pool of water that appears red in color. Then in the next sequence of clips, we barely catch a glimpse of Mick Jenkins through all the brush that’s in the forest. The viewer can barely make out a man running swiftly through the forest. Next thing you know is a close up of Mick being dragged through the forest by two white males. The POV becomes the role of slave catchers in the video. His face is then shoved into the dirt by these two men while the hook of the song goes, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breath...” The words uttered by Eric Garner as he was choked to death by police officers.
Then a few frames later you see Mick Jenkin's face being forced into the water by the slave catchers and he becomes submerged in the water, drowning, still unable to breathe. He is drifting underwater until he sees a raft floating above. With an ounce of hope Mick swims his way to the top of the waters and climbs onto the raft. After a struggle he finally gets to the top of the raft and begins to steer his way down the river. Then the verse kicks.
Mick is making his way down the river when he finds two other men who have been submerged in water and tied down with nooses around their necks. Mick proceeds to pull the two men onto the raft saving them from the depths of the waters.
The beat makes a shift into a jazzy funkadelic sound as a girl holding a doll sprints through the forest. Fast forward a couple frames and we see that this girl was running toward the bank of the river. Where she and Mick Jenkins find a group of angry slaves who have captured the two slave catchers that were seen early in the video. They are forcing the slave catchers’ faces into the water drowning them much like they did to the other men throughout the video. The girl then looks as if she yelled stop and then Mick Jenkins puts these two men on the raft and allow them to float on the raft back down the river.
The video "Drowning" is drawing several parallels between the antebellum south and our culture today. First off the name of the song is drowning. Mick Jenkins references water as both a healing component and a very vicious element. On one hand water can have so many healing capabilities, but societies and cities have also seen the destructive power of water.
In the video Mick Jenkins becomes submerged in the water by the slave catchers which symbolizes the methods society uses to belittle blacks or keep them at the bottom. Often times these pressures society puts on the black body become overwhelming and one feels like they are suffocating, “can’t breathe", losing life. These pressure come from law enforcement, the environment, and even relatives. There are so many ways that society has planned to set back Blacks in America that black people are literally drowning in what is suppose to be our own land, a free land. When Mick Jenkins finds the raft after being submerged in the water it is that little bit of hope that keeps him afloat. It is that thing that keeps his head above water and doesn’t allow him to drown in the pressure and traps that society has set in place. The raft could also be symbolic of the platform Mick Jenkins has created for himself or him floating at the top of the rap game. Either way Mick uses this platform to pull other people that found themselves in that situation out of it.
When he gets to the bank of the river the slaves are ready to kill the slave catchers and drown them in the same water that their people were being drowned in. Mick Jenkins chooses to let the two men go despite the pain that they have caused him. With that being said it is my guess that The Healing Component (THC) is having compassion for your fellow human being despite wrongs them have done. This can go for white on black crime or black on black crime. Love is the highest frequency and love is the tool that can heal many broken situations. Mick Jenkins is saying we all need to have compassion even for our enemies. That will be the only way we heal the situation we live in.
Although we have seen stories from the era of slavery played out in theater before. I for one think Mick Jenkins does a brilliant rendition of the Black experience in America. The video ends with Mick Jenkins having a American flag in the form of a noose tied around his neck saying this country is literally killing his people and it should be stopped. Blacks just want to be respected as humans and not treated like cattle or outcasts. The themes in the video remind me of the work of Kara Walker an artist who depicts wild renditions of the antebellum south, so true yet so powerful. Let Mick Jenkins song "Drowning" ft, BADBADNOTGOOD be an inspiration and let us know that love can heal all. You can pre-order THC by Mick Jenkins on Apple Music.