Vic Mensa sets the tone for future album release.
The world has changed a lot since the last time we heard from Vic Mensa. In June of last year, in an effort to avert the crisis that he saw a Trump Presidency being, the Chicago native released his critically acclaimed and highly political debut EP “There’s A lot Going On” and offered it for free to any fan that pledged to vote in the U.S. election via a voting registration website. Despite his efforts, however, the crisis was not averted.
Themes throughout “There’s A Lot Going On” include racial profiling, police brutality towards black citizens (especially the incident relating to the shooting of Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times in the back despite doing little wrong), Mensa’s own mental health and his relationship with his new-found fame.
On his latest 4-track EP “The Manuscript,” released on Friday, Mensa takes the time to look inward, and to discuss his goals, and the pitfalls of fame, power and influence. On the opener, ‘Almost There’, Mensa raps coolly about being so close to his goal (his album, which he claims on this track is ready) over bouncing Piano-led instrumentation. The song’s lyrics are smart and culturally significant to the time, with references to J-Cole, Basketballer LeBron James and Pi littered throughout the verses. The chorus, sung by Mr.Hudson, slows the track down whenever it arrives, but offers a chance to re-adjust before concentrating again for the second verse.
“OMG”, the EP’s lead single, discusses Vic’s life both before and after he signed his Roc-Nation record deal and how his life has changed so drastically. The sampled refrain of “Ohh My Goodness” adds a little lightheartedness to the track, while Pusha-T’s guest verse says very little and wouldn’t be missed much had it been cut. “Rollin’ Like A Stoner” is the EP’s shortest track and is exactly as its title would have you believe it is, with Mensa detailing his relationship to drugs and alcohol told from the perception of a person still in their inebriated state, rapped between booming choruses.
The final song, Rage, is the most personal of all the songs from this collection. It begins with a short ‘a cappella‘ introduction from Mensa before instrumentation sets in after 20 seconds. The track details Mensa’s views of the world, its current political situation and the epidemic that is technology addiction among young people. Mensa also deals with his own struggles, revealing his fear of wasting his time on earth and his wishes for more time and also more about his coping mechanisms with fame. As with his previous EP, the final track is the highlight, and leaves listeners thinking long after the song has faded to silence.
As a precursor to an album, this EP has done everything it can be expected to do. It will increase Mensa’s profile, whet fan’s appetites and also buys Mensa more time to put the finishing touches to the album if necessary. Now that Vic has caught the rap world’s attention once more, it’s finally time to release his centrepiece, an album that, if previous work is to go by, will be one of the best albums across all genres in 2017.