On an unseasonably warm Friday night in October, hundreds of fans lined up around the block outside of New York City's Bowery Ballroom, hoping to make it into the venue for Mick Jenkins' headlining show. The theme for the evening is love, but not the trademarked, Valentine's Day sort of love. Walking down the street towards the end of the line, all kinds of affection are on display—couples are wrapped in each other’s arms, friends bring slices of pizza for the rest of their group in line, and strangers spark up conversations with their neighbors.

“I don’t think I’ll ever completely understand what it means to love,” Jenkins says a few days earlier. It's bright and early on a Wednesday morning, and he may have just woken up, but the Chicago rapper takes his time to offer a thoughtful response as he toys with the idea. “It’s something that I’m figuring out as I go through different things in life.” While creating his new album, The Healing Component, Jenkins had to engage in a lot of self-reflection. “Owning up to the things that I’ve done, why I did them, where they come from, and even taking the time to figure those things out, help me know myself a lot better,” he explains. 

Love is a topic Jenkins deals with obsessively over the course of The Healing Component. “When people talk about love, you really only think about the pretty parts, the romantic parts of love,” he says at the tail end of the opening track. “People don’t think about things like loving themselves, and what that takes. And that you have to know yourself to love yourself, and how difficult of a battle that might be.”