Mick Jenkins and The UK Dons

London diary, Day 4.

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Everyone is excited about today. Mick is in good spirits after his session with Little Simz last night that has also helped him connect organically with some UK artists. We’ve slyly been talking about this day all week; it’s three back-to-back radio interviews with a few UK dons. We kick off with The Big Dawg Westwood, who they’ve been impersonating with a gradually improving British accent. On entering the Tim Westwood TV crib session, Mick, Sllime, Noah and Zig start looking through the hundreds of vinyl’s, which plaster the walls of the room. Meanwhile Tim having given them the go ahead to smoke, calls up to turn the first alarms off. To be honest Tim’s two smoke machines are probably providing more smoulder than all of them puffing on their diminishing Backwood blunts.

There’s like 15 minutes of small talk whilst everyone gets his legit, ‘I was at Westwood’s’ pic from the gram and Mick just casually lays down the freestyle. One take, as clear as anything and they’re literally done and go into the interview, which Westwood opens with: “Tim Westwood TV! Male model in the back baybee, Mick Jenkins, what’s up?”

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For some strange reason no one has eaten a croissant yet but because everything is rolling smoothly and on time today, we just keep it moving. Before you know it we’re all in the BBC 1Xtra studios. Mick is sitting next to hip hop ledge DJ Semtex who’s informing him about the worrying trend of ‘shank rap’ here in the UK and plays him some music. Mick just shakes his head. Lady Leshurr’ “Queen Speech Ep.4” is playing live on the station and it seems to have made it stateside too because the guys are aware of it but Zig perfectly sums up everyone’s thoughts in the room, dismissing it as ‘hashtag rap.’

As expected Semtex quickly delves into Mick’s mind, opening the interview by picking his brain about Obama. All wrapped up, the photographer is taking pics whilst Sem offers up some advice to Mick about how to take on the UK, using Joey Bada$$ as an example. It’s definitely soaked up and we’re off to Beats radio for the final interview of the day with Julie Adenuga.

We get to Beats before Julie does, which she apologies for profusely but it doesn’t matter because the guys have instantly fallen for her. The interview is fast paced and hilarious with just the right amount of musical inquisitiveness too, which is genuinely refreshing for Mick, having been stuck in dreary chats all week. When we get back in the car to head to their now local spot Boxpark, the guys are all like, “I think I might love her.”

It was the perfect way to end a packed out week of promo with those three high-tier chats. We’re supposed to do the final interview at Boxpark, which is a constantly evolving pop-up mall, consuming the entire corner of Shoreditch High Street. It’s comprised of around fifty separate shipping containers and there’s a cool mix of high-end global streetwear, independent UK labels and an array of restaurants and bars on the second level. Because I know, having been with them all day and all week in general for that matter that they haven’t eaten yet; I’m cool to wait and head back to the ends, after another pick up. To try and do an hour long interview at 7pm is just out of order otherwise.

Liam our photographer leaves us at this point and the guys are desperate to get a video of him. They say he’s literally like their tour photographer in the US, Bryan, from the appearance down to the character. So they’ve been calling him British Bryan all week. Zig films Liam sending for Bryan claiming to be the original Bryan because they don’t have WIFI, otherwise Sllime was eager to make them both FaceTime.

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Finally at Boxpark, Mick deals with a West Indian roti, whilst catching up with a photographer friend. Sllime has fully converted to Fish & Chips and this time does it all properly, lots of salt and vinegar plus a little mayo and ketchup on the side. Whilst he’s waiting for his order, he’s absolutely gassed about the new Beats headphones he was gifted earlier, in bright green, of course. He pulls out his phone, instantly scrolls to “Gang” and is screwing up his face so hard before forcing Zig and I to listen too. We both pull the same, ‘sh*t what is that smell face?’

Everyone fed, there’s a smoke break whilst Mick hits up the ATM. He spotted some pants the other day in this pop-up trailer, which he has to get. Although this is their first free night, they’re all happy to just stay in. “We don’t go out,” Mick lays it out plainly. “When we don’t have to be in the club for a show we’re just chilling at home.”

After a few months break to just live and find a little space to write, I’m pretty sure Mick and co. will be hitting up the UK again. I hope so because it’s been cool hanging out with them this week. It could have been exceedingly awkward if no one got along and we had to shadow the guys all week. But they’ve been welcoming and laid back about the whole thing, which has made Liam and myself do our job that much easier. It’s been a pleasure!

The actual interview with Mick Jenkins is coming, I promise; so keep an eye out for that dropping on Monday, where I delve into the man behind the music. Having sat through umpteen interviews, I focus on Mick’s life and the experiences that have undoubtedly shaped his music. Alongside dealing with his growing fame, incessantly shifting relationships with his family and friends and what he’s learned about himself since entering the music industry.

In the meantime, read the first, second part, and part three of our tour log.

Words by Nardene Scott
Photography by Liam Ricketts

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