Vic Mensa's Autobiography

Over the recent years, Chicago has emerged as a city with promising young hip-hop/rap talents. We are all familiar with the come up of Chance the Rapper, but rapper Vic Mensa, who was a frequent collaborator with Chance (“Cocoa Butter Kisses”), was a prominent part of this movement. He came into the spotlight with the critically acclaimed mixtape, INNANETAPE. After that more lighthearted tape, however, many things took place that would shape Vic Mensa into the fiery, rebellious rapper we see in his debut album, The Autobiography. The raw and unhinged storytelling in the album captivates the listener as Vic paints a picture of himself, inside and out, for the world to see. The production value is not lacking by any means as the album is executive produced by No I.D.. Features include Pharrell, Chief Keef, and even Weezer. The features and production accompanying Vic’s brutally uncensored and personal conversation with the listener make this project an impressive and interesting debut.

There is nothing that Vic Mensa holds back in the hour-long album as he details his experiences with the demons he has encountered in his life. The track, “Memories on 47th St.”, recaps many of the struggles that accompanied the rapper’s upbringing in Southside Chicago over bouncy production provided by 1500 or Nothin’, No I.D., and DJ Dahi. At one point, he recounts a near-death experience of him falling from a 30-foot bridge and being shocked by 15,000 Volts. Much of the album doubles down on the theme of dictating ugly events in Vic’s life. “Heaven on Earth”, a standout track featuring The-Dream, is an incredibly haunting song that reads like a tragic story. In it, the listener is subjected to experiencing the grim death of Vic Mensa’s close friend, Killa Cam, from three different perspectives. Another highlight is “Wings”, a track that features vocals and production from none other than Pharrell Williams. Once again, Mensa discusses harsh subject matter with lyrics surrounding adultery and drug abuse.

The album as a whole is nothing short of a high-quality showcasing of Vic Mensa’s skills as an artist. His lyricism and flow are incredibly polished. He attacks every track with confidence, even in the face of discussing such personal matters. With the serious nature of the album, however, a challenge is posed in terms of crossover appeal. It is hard to imagine that many of the songs within the debut will experience significant airtime. Even the efforts to accomplish this (“Rollin’ Like a Stoner”) seemed to fall flat in terms of creating a track of that nature. This debut certainly is not meant for casual listening. However, when you have time to sit and listen to the tracks, you will be amazed by the debut. Vic Mensa has a promising future as being one of the most skilled and unique rappers in the genre. Whether or not he becomes a chart-topping artist remains up in the air. All of this being said, this is one of the better rap debuts we have had in a long time.