Cinematic Music Group · January 10, 2020
Sonically, The Circus is a project that is lax and mellow, regularly matching Jenkins’ and guest’s Earthgang energy. Although The Circus features production from established and upcoming producers such as Hit-Boy, Black Milk, and IAMNOBODI– whose credits range from Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, and Nipsey Hussle– the record falls flat more often than it connects. Most cuts on the record are simple-sounding trap beats that are reformatted to fit Jenkins; style, with the addition of a guitar sample or a synth chord here and there. However, when the sound does connect, the end result is a laidback and comforting soundscape that allows Jenkins lyrics to shine.
“Carefree” stands out clearly along with “The Light” as the best tracks on The Circus. “Carefree” is a quintessential Jenkins track that features a relaxed instrumental with smooth synths and guitar chords. Jenkins describes a scenario in which he and friends are having a summertime night that is ended by discrimination by police officers, as Jenkins pleads, “give me space…let me breathe.” “The Light” offers a similar sound as “Carefree” and features Earthgang’s Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot who deliver punchy lines, comedic metaphors, and a catchy chorus.
Contrarily, “Same Ol” is a track produced by “Sicko Mode” hit-maker Hit-Boy, but exists as one of the more boring tracks on the album, with blaring 808’s and hi-hats.
Overall, Jenkins’ word play is sharp, and when he has something to say, he delivers.
The Circus is brief, lackadaisical and leaves much to be desired from the Chicago artist as he does not live up to his full potential on this 19-minute project. Although imperfect, this project’s high points should make listeners excited for what Jenkins has in store next.
Listen to The Circus: