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Release Date: 8 June 2017
Label: Roc Nation
WRITTEN BY JABIR McMILLIAN
Vic Mensa is an interesting artist, I’d like to say I’m a big fan of him, but really I would be lying to myself. I respect his hustle though. He never got the industry backing of his former Chicago and #SaveMoney teammate, Chancellor Bennett AKA Chance The Rapper. Although it seems like something’s noticeably different in their commercial appeal, Vic has found his own lane to success. Signed to the prestigious Roc Nation label, as well as owning the eternal support of Kanye West, he has found his own niche away from the streets of Chicago, Illinois. Keeping music, he’s even more versatile than Chance, going from melodic floaty tracks like “New Bae” and “Codeine Crazy (Icarus Story)” to bangers like “Dynasty” & “U Mad”. One never knows what they’re getting with this enigma, but this EP could be some beacon of what his long-awaited debut will be like. Let’s get it.
Almost There (ft. Mr. Hudson) – You don’t put Mr. Hudson on a track to play the back. When you see that name, you should almost always expect something of a pop feel. He shapes the tracks he’s on, it’s just based on history. He comes off like an Adam Levine impersonator here, which isn’t necessarily a diss. The instrumental is real laid back, the drums don’t hit too hard, and then it coalesces into the pianos for the hook. But yeah, Vic Mensa really doesn’t bring too much to get excited about here. Run of the mill flow, not his best punchlines, no special voice inflections which are always something you must be wary of with Vic’s songs. For a project void of much normalcy, this song sets up a series of surprises. Rate: 4/10
OMG (ft. Pusha T & Pharrell Williams) – Obviously the most star power and intriguing song just off paper. Here’s the song you really are gonna take away from this EP. Pharrell comes through on the production, dropping something that sounds like it could be in the modern rendition of The Karate Kid. Really feels like some showdown music. Nothing special, but it leaves room for the lyrics. Vic comes through with some memorable jabs as punchlines, you can tell this is a track that could’ve very well made the album and was saved to carry this project. Here’s a few personal favorites:
“Brazilian model, she mean mugging like Frida Kahlo”
“Fresh out the cell to the booth, drop the Dylan Roof
I’m still in the hood, tell Zimmerman “Shoot”
Hold my nuts with an OJ glove, fuck the judge”
“You rappers is false flagging, you a fashion blood
What’s brackin’ cuz? What you know about gangbanging?
What’s VLONE thug? Why Bari leave your head rangin’?”
So yeah, Vic came through with some breakaway dunks here. Not to be outdone, Pusha T Pusha Ton closes out with his usual array of Scarface-esque drug tales and ever-extending pop culture references. You get a full plate with this song. Rate: 7.5/10
Rollin’ Like A Stoner – At first thought, I felt like there was nothing I could appreciate from this song. It’s a clear party anthem at your college of choice. The type of joint that’ll eventually be the soundtrack to keg stands and roofies. I even hate the track’s name. All that aside, this isn’t simply the B-Sides to “I Love College”. It has a dark underbelly, as you get the tone this lifestyle is starting to wear down the humanity of this character. His morality is slowly fading away towards the end, along with whatever level of sobriety he possessed. So there’s something to gain here from the actual content. I gotta show props for that. Rate: 6/10
Rage – Apparently, this is one of the most, if not the most anticipated track from Vic Mensa in his short career. Beyoncé, Pharrell, are some of the names who have given this track some level of praise. It even featured some contributions production-wise from Vic himself. I’ll give him one thing, the man has a great capacity in making his closing tracks quite epic. I get the same vibe instrumentally and in tone that I got from There’s Alot Going On’s titular track & outro. The hook acts as a modern reliving of Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Gentle Night”, and as somebody who’s done a project on Dylan, the content of this song would make the poet quite proud. Vic gives us a look back at some of his oppressors growing up, instances where he was held back by the hood’s dirty vices, and even the flashy lifestyle of being a celebrity chaining him. You get the same fiery explosion of emotion that flowed during the aforementioned “Codeine Crazy” remix. I really love this track man, I don’t know if Vic can make you feel something strong every song of an actual album, especially under 5 minutes, but I do know his capability of making social events out of solo songs has to be remarked. It has to. Rate: 9.5/10
I can’t summarize this project to be truthful. If you’ve been a Vic fan for a minute, you know of his versatility and you won’t be surprised by this joint at all. If you’re an outsider however, this really gives you a look to a guy I’d like to think of as Sasuke to Chance’s Naruto. They’re two eternally-linked brothers birthed from the same village and they each contribute something wonderful to not only their people, but to all of us who can’t relate in a single way to their issues or life experiences. The fact that can we appreciate Chance and make him the face of hip hop makes me believe that once Vic finds his path, and displays to us his evolution over wax for an entire LP, we’ll have these two once again sharing the limelight. Vic has too much talent not to be a star.
Overall EP Rating: 7/10
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