Album review

The New Birth of the Roc — Vic Mensa x The Autobiography

Alright guys I have been TRYING not to freak out about this, or more importantly to talk about it constantly because it would be extremely annoying if I did so… but I recently got asked to cover Vic Mensa while he is out on the 4:44 tour. Yes THE 4:44 tour with Jay-Z…

I know it seems like Jay Z would be the draw for me, and don’t get me wrong he is definitely exciting as hell to be able to see live. I haven’t gotten the chance to catch a tour with him before, so I am definitely ready for the experience but, here’s the thing — I have been so fucking down with Vic Mensa’s music since he came out. I bumped the hell out of Innanetape and have been playing him consistently ever since, because each release he has had has gotten more complex, more diverse, more explorative of his own personal experiences, which feels few and far between in the newer music released today; or at least the music being pushed by the industry.

It makes Vic a stand out for me, and I fucking love a standout. From his random stand out performance when he sat in for Del (I will see you this month doot) with the Gorillaz at the Governor’s Ball — to the fact that Vic had already toured with J.Cole (fuck yes), Wale, and Danny Brown (hey boooooooooo) before his first full length album had dropped, Victor Kwesi Mensah is here to knock your brain back with introspective bars, genre-bending beats, and a fly ass leather jacket covered in every spike possible with his newest album, the Autobiography.

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Yo for real, The Autobiography takes the fucking cake when it comes to his discography. This is his most honest, in-depth and in my own opinion, most fun album to date for me — although it might not be fun in a traditional sense of ‘turn up’ that is prevalent in modern hip hop and it’s latest incarnations. I have listened to it back and forth, up and down, sideways and upside down since it dropped in September and I do not sense it being taken out of my rotation anytime soon.

The lead off track ‘Say I Didn’t’, Vic immediately bursts onto the album with his power statement. This song and in reality his entire fucking album is Mensa letting everyone know that he has never doubted himself. Whether through the nay-sayers, the doubters, the haters, and the complainers, Vic let it all roll off because he knew he was going to be something greater, and every move he has made in the last five years has shown exactly that.

While I loved ‘Memories on 47th St” the next track on the album, its track #3, aka ‘Rolling Like A Stoner’ that spoke deeply into my spirit — shocking I know. It takes a bit of a twist and turn from the first two songs and their more serious tone and gives you a playful glimpse into the world of a dude who, let’s face it, is probably living his best life. LOL. As the Resident Stoner, this song is certainly one that I have been constantly repeating.

With ‘Homewrecker’ and ‘Gorgeous’ he takes us on the journey of Vic the man, the man who cares and loves one, but finds himself falling for another, inevitably landing himself in some hot ass water and on the tail end of a broom swinging at his head. Homewrecker is particularly clever, comparing his “wifey” to the homewrecker” as she tears his home apart after catching him cheating, and Gorgeous is a seemingly proper send off, to the woman in the song, but even more so to women in general. Listening to the words one cannot help but notice that he seems to be letting go of the distractions in general, instead choosing to focus on us, his audience, and on making an album that was worthy enough to tell his tale, and layered enough to draw us in.

That is only the first half of what turns out to be an even more layered album, as we transition from life and love, to loss as ‘Heaven on Earth’ introduces us to Vic’s friend Cam, who was taken from this world far too young. The song speaks on so many heartbreaking moments, that it has been the hardest song for me to get through without wanting to change it. In spite of the crazy rock-star in a rapper body persona — Mensa is heartbreakingly real in this song, creating a textured landscape of hurt and pain that we as the listener have to traverse through. Speaking briefly on friendships, Vic makes mention of Joey… which leads me into one of my favorite songs on the album,
‘Down for Some Ignorance: Ghetto Lullaby’.

Sort of a crew song in a sense, it features Joey Purp one of Mensa’s ride or dies, and Chief Keef, another infamous Chicago rapper who is often mired in ratchet-ass controversy. The song tells a tale of revenge as the three men are careening down the path of guns, violence and retaliation, with Joey Purp (who I fucking adore, btw) sitting side seat. The two have clearly been through a lot together, and their attitudes toward each other is very apparent. I listen to this song on REPEAT when I need to get into the right kind of amped up mindset.

Vic-Mensa-live-at-Sasquatch

In the end though, even these songs pale in comparison to my absolute standouts

1. Wings featuring Saul MUTHAFKN Williams
2. We Could be Free featuring Ty Dolla $ign
3. Rage

These songs are SO good, and so beautiful that I refuse to tell you about them, because in the end I need you to experience this album for yourself. I need for each and everyone of you to feel the ups and downs, ebbs and flows that I went through. I will say this though — it takes a beautiful mind to take Dylan Thomas’ epic poem “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” and re-tell it in a hip hop format, and that is EXACTLY what Rage is.

It’s classic, it’s tragic, it’s destined to resonate — both the song, and the album as a whole. You should ALL be listening to it by now, but if you haven’t started already, let me help you:

I will be front and center (literally) on Dec 17th as Vic Mensa takes the stage of Golden 1 Center, and I will be 100 percent fucking ready for it. I manifested this show into my life, and I am going to do it all the justice I can. Fuck it, imma make Vic proud. I wish I could bring you all into the pit with me… but since I can’t click the link below and make sure to get your tickets before they sell out!

http://bit.ly/2z89xfx

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Olivia Monahan

November 2nd, 2017

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