Some songs are meant to be experienced, some meant to be taken to the soul, some meant to be thought over, some belted loudly, and some just danced to. The single “Feel That” by Vic Mensa at its core is one of those songs meant to be danced to with ego and easy carelessness as the psychedelic, swagger-filled music encapsulates you. At the time I heard the song two years back, I didn’t think much of or know much about Vic Mensa or his work; this song was just a fun, substance-less song with some good beats.
However, not only did I stumble back into Vic Mensa’s music last fall when his first EP There’s a Lot Going On (2016) showed up in my Spotify recommendations, but I also ended really liking his more recent work for its depth and honesty.
There’s a Lot Going On is rather short, with only seven songs, but it packs a punch with its boldness and its variety within (I’m telling you, no song sounds the same and that is rare). Vic Mensa proves himself to be no bystander, using his platform as a African American musical artist, to speak about issues affecting his own community. In my personal favorite songs 16 Shots and Shades of Blue, Mensa discusses the injustices of race-based police brutality with the shooting of Laquan Macdonald and how the Flint water crisis inordinately affects the African American community respectively on engaging tracks, but without any filter. In Dynasty and There’s a Lot Going, Mensa candidly speaks about his own personal struggles with drugs, his career, and mental health without any fluff contributing to the raw confessional woven through the EP.
I can’t deny that I have very little in common with Vic Mensa and for that matter, most of the artists I will be covering in this blog, however the human experience of the highs and lows of life is universal and fascinating, as everyone experiences and reflects on these high and lows in different ways due to external factors. Furthermore, I find common ground with these artists with the minority experience; I understand the pain of injustice because it happens in my community too. But the thing is, the injustice I experience as an Asian American is different compared to other minority groups and so part of the reason I am so drawn to hip hop is that it’s educational to a point and overall thought-provoking in a creative way. And Vic Mensa specializes in no-frills, conscious rap which is something I admire, enjoy listening to, and always end up gaining a new perspective through.
Just a month ago, Vic Mensa released his debut album The Autobiography and somehow he’s topped his last work; I am enthralled and cannot stop listening to it. The Autobiography pronounces Vic Mensa’s commitment as a Black Lives Matter activism through “We Could be Free” and clear-cut honesty by acknowledging his violent upbringing in Chicago’s South Side in “Memories on 47th Street” and his struggles with infidelity and drugs and belief in “Wings.” Furthermore, this album shows Mensa’s commitment to making human rap as the album’s detailed execution reveals a glaringly sincere reflection of the darkest and brightest moments of Mensa’s life and the causes Mensa cares about.
I only look forward to observing how Vic Mensa evolves as a person and how his music reflects that, but until then it’s some times good to let go and blast “Feel That” and strut across the dance floor (my dorm room floor at 1 AM for me).
You feel that?