There's Alot Going On: Review
Chicago rapper Vic Mensa recently dropped a political, transparent EP that gives his audience an idea of what's going on inside the 23 year old's world. There's Alot Going On is a perfect example of an artist's transition into adulthood and loss of innocence. Vic, once the lead singer of Kids These Days, isn't the same artist who made the smooth, calming love song "Orange Soda". His eyes are open and he’s experienced the harsh realities of life, so now he's taking a stance and expressing his opinions, while displaying his immense amount of talent.
The anti-police song "16 Shots" won't be a favorite of the CPD (Chicago Police Department). Mensa taps into his inner Ice-T and exclaims his distrust for "12" after the murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke. McDonald, who was told to drop his knife by the officer, was afterwards shot 16 times as Officer Van Dyke emptied his clip in 13 seconds. This episode only added fuel to the estrangement and rising tension between the police and citizens. Mensa told the Breakfast Club that he wrote the song immediately after the Jesse Jackson-led protest on State Street, which brought together nearly 200 supporters in a call for justice. During the protest, an officer pushed Mensa's friend and called her a "bitch". Yes, Vic goes a little overboard by calling for arms against police officers, but his passion and "unapologetic blackness" forces you to sympathize with his anger and frustration.
In “Dynasty”, Vic makes his claim as the “Fresh Prince” of Roc Nation. The screeching loop before the beat drops gives him a chance to show off his lyrical ability with bars like: “I stray away to say the way my days would be without rap, My mind drifts to back before the Chi was labeled Chiraq, Then Chief Keef dropped in 2012, now it’s a drill”. When the beat drops, the young boy snaps. Referencing Maury to Holly Holm, “Dynasty” is a great intro to his EP. The entire track gives you the impression that more solid bars are to follow. It was only right to be named “Dynasty” since his boss, Hov, uses the same name for the intro of The Dynasty: Roc La Familia.
“I’M FEELING LIKE THE 2ND COMING, AS I FUCKED THE WORLD FOR THE FIRST TIME AND SHE LOVE IT”
“Danger” is the only single and is the most commercial song on the 7-track EP. The grungy dark electric guitar puts you in a Seattle basement and you feel a little uneasy and unsafe. Mensa asserts that his upbringing in the Southside of Chiraq has made him comfortable in this dangerous lifestyle and that he wouldn’t trade it for anything other than a fine ass girl that’s a “basket case”. The eerie singing adds to the already dark, mysterious vibe. “Danger” is compacted with many memorable bars like: “I’m on my new Hov and Nas it’s a takeover, Young boy but I’m an OG like I’m Maco” and “I made the foundation like bitches with makeup, You’re flexing your Jacob, Get cut like a shape up, the city so hot it might dry the whole lake up”.
I despise “New Bae” and I skip it every time I listen to the album. I loathe this overuse of auto-tune and the retreat from live instrumentation. “New Bae” is a failed attempt to fit in with the current trend of music. I feel like he has been trying too hard to become marketable and commercial, from the Southside tattoo across his neck to songs like “U Mad”, which are desperate reaches for attention. I became a Vic fan when I heard “Orange Soda” from Innanetape, but over the past three years he has moved away from this jazzy and organic sound to a more overused, artificial noise. For example, Steven, a cofounder of HMTA, wrote Vic Mensa off until he heard Innanetape earlier this year.
But, I was pleasantly surprised with “Liquor Locker”, which is my favorite song on the album. The guitar rift takes you back to Innanetape and Kids These Days, with Mensa showing off his range by singing. Finally, Ty Dolla $ign comes in and kills the song.
“NOW YOU’VE GOT TODDLERS DRINKING TOXIC WASTE, WHILE THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE STILL AIN’T CAUGHT NO CASE, I DON’T GET IT MAN, I JUST AIN’T WIT IT MAN, THEY GOT DAMN DANIEL DISTRACTING YOU ON INSTAGRAM, BACK AGAIN WITH THE ALL-WHITE MEDIA COVERAGE”
The ode to the Flint Michigan, “Shade of Blue”, is the most meaningful and arguably the best song on the album. Mensa discusses how everything in the world, “rain or shine” is all blue. From Flint to Chicago to New York, he shows how the world seems to be against people of color and he desires to be the change, but he understands that he is also apart of the problem by saying, “Now here I am talking ‘bout a revolution, And I can’t even spare a dollar to the movement, But I’m in the strip club spending dollars on that movement, I guess we all got room for improvement”. The honesty Mensa expresses is a common feeling many millennials feel; as we see wrongs happen in the world, like the toxic water in Flint or the murder of Michael Brown, we try to take a stance, but we get distracted by the more delightful things in life.
“THERE’S A LOT GOING ON BUT I STICK TO THE ONES I LOVE, I NEVER CLAIMED TO BE A PERFECT MAN BUT NAME A GREAT MAN WHO WAS”
“There’s Alot Going On” is the most transparent song of the album as Mensa reflects on the drama and problems he has experienced these past few years. He opens up about his depression, his infidelities and his drug habit. Most rappers would also refrain from talking about their domestic disputes with their partners, but he is completely open in telling how and why it happened, and how he felt afterwards. In the interview with the Breakfast Club, he said that moment was the breaking point in which he understood that the relationship had became too much and decided to end it with his longtime girlfriend. Furthermore, he describes how LA became toxic for him, and his move to his “mom’s basement” to get back on track. As the final track, “There’s Alot Going On” gives the audience the complete screening of Vic Mensa’s brain.