It’s been hit or miss with Vic Mensa. Back in 2013, the musical movement coming out of Chicago was absolutely monstrous. Chicago artists are constantly elevated because there are unable to be matched when it comes to all three elements of rap such as flow, content, the ability to be witty/captivate. Heading this movement were two hometown friends; Chance the Rapper & Vic Mensa. As much as Acid Rap was popping at the time, as was INNANETAPE. From a damn near flawless mixtape and a XXL Freshman Class of 2014 accolade, fans knew Vic was one the nicest new prospects to enter the game. He signed to Roc Nation and from that point, assuming that he would be in good hands, all we could do was wait.
He peaked with a few hits like “Down on My Luck” & “U Mad” featuring Kanye West, and Kanye’s own “Wolves” but no matter the number of singles, still no album. He then dropped an EP in the summer of 2016 entitled There’s A Lot Going On, portraying a political voice that we weren’t used to hearing from Vic. But considering the ignorant killings that were going on in the country at the time, we accepted and were happier to hear from him period due to the recent hiatus. There’s A lot Going On wasn’t all we needed but it still let us know that Vic was alive. Certain track likes “Shades of Blue” confirmed that although he was going through personal changes, he could still deliver the utmost fire. Almost an entire year passed as Vic slipped back into the darkness. We became nonchalant over the idea of receiving an album that in reality, was just not dropping. But luckily, on June 6th via Twitter, Vic announced that he would releasing yet another EP called The Manuscript on June 8th. I sure as hell hoped this project would exemplify but old Vic but only my ears could make that call. Featuring legendary producers like Mike Dean, No I.D., and Pharrell, here’s what I thought about Vic’s newest release:
Almost There ft. Mr. Hudson:
He claimed himself that this was for all of his fans that say they want that old Vic; damn right. The drums that kick off the song bring us back to Vic’s Traphouse Rock songs, where he would rap over band instrumentation rather than a studio produced beat. His delivery gave us early insight that he was really rapping about real shit. It’s easy to get caught up in the light of fame and with a constantly evolving life, he could have easily spit about the fast life he was living. Instead, the content of this song took us back to 19 year Vic of his street days in Chicago. Mr. Hudson provides a calm sedation on the hook, creating a smooth balance of hip-hop and rock, bouncing back and forth from one another.
Best lines: “I’m representin’, I’m representin’, I’m representin’/ to my piece of American pie is never ending/ you know, pi, never ending, that’s a slick line/ this the type of flow that made them fuck with me the first time”
OMG ft. Puhsa T:
After hearing the famous four beat drops of Pharrell, our heads were bobbing before Vic even started rapping. Immediately following “Almost There”, the beat and confident, uncensored lyricism still satisfied our expectations of experiencing old Vic. He did a phenomenal job of expressing his gang mentality, yet still giving examples of the fame he has been able to reach and the results that it provides in the world. Pusha T murders his verse, seamlessly flowing over this cypher type beat. Pusha T is one of those artists who we know is nice, but never give enough credit where it is due. I’m not sure who put this collaboration together but damn, this one is for the hood. This is what happens when the real ones link up on the corner, play a beat, and start spitting.
Best Lines: “No blood diamonds/ I rock gold like a king/ Jewelry so cold, made ’em blow the nose off the Sphinx”
Rollin’ Like a Stoner:
To be honest, nah. This was the moment in the project where I kind of lost interest. It’s not a trash track but it certainly does not do the EP any justice. And more importantly, compared to the last two songs, it was rather inferior. I think this song would hit in a concert, undoubtedly, but in headphones, heading to work at 9 o’clock in the morning, it certainly messed up the flow. Vic raps about his engagement with weed and insinuates that grass isn’t the only drug he dabbles with. On the bright side, this track speaks to the consciousness of “Fuck it, we’re getting high”. Lyrically, it was very well thought out. Musically, the recipe was highly unseasoned.
Best Lines: “One, two, three too many drinks, I think I might forget/ How to count to ten, I tend to turn two shots until a fifth”
I trust when Vic sings. I mean, look back to “Wolves” if you just got put on, or even further to when Vic was still in Kids These Days when he was about 17-18 years old. When I heard the final song, I was pleased with the fact that all four songs were extremely diverse. Despite their versatile beats, Vic talked some real shit on each and every one. When he started actually rapping about his reflective conscious of coming back into the realm of music, and the contemplation of pleasing his fans, I couldn’t dare drift away from anything he was saying. The most important component of this song for me was the fact he openly acknowledged where he was, where he went, and where he is going with his career. Despite getting caught up, from this we saw that he was still doing it for us, and nothing less.
Best Lines: “Niggas waking up with no job, no mob lynching, we still hangin’/ White man telling niggas to ball like Phil Jackson”
Peep the cover art. The Manuscript seems to be only half of what Vic Mensa intends on dropping. We’ll be waiting…
By K. High