Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Review: Vic Mensa

Vic Mensa INNANETAPE (Self-released, 2013)

Following the split of Vic Mensa's rap group, Kids These Days, the future of the 19 year old was uncertain, so it was only natural for there to be much speculation as to whether his proposed debut mixtape would be a success or a complete flop. However, ever since he turned critics' heads after his stellar verse in Chance's "Cocoa Butter Kisses", Mensa has been quietly priming himself to break out of being a member of a not-so-successful rap group in order to shock the world with yet another Chi-town masterpiece, INNANETAPE.

There are various up-and-coming artists that feature on the tape including Chance The Rapper, Lili K and BJ The Chicago Kid, who recently attained new-found-fame through the incredibly successful release of Chance's second mixtape, Acid Rap, despite the fact that it wasn't released through a record label; an impressive achievement by any means. Ab-Soul (of Black Hippy) features on the track "Holy Holy", which shows off the strong flows of both himself and Mensa as they rap over a minimalistic underlying drum beat throughout the song, and with powerful vocals from BJ The Chicago Kid that emulate an early Frank Ocean, it is probably one of my favourite hip-hop tracks of the year. Other featuring artists include British singer-songwriter Eliza Doolittle and the multi-genre bassist Thundercat, who is most famous for his work with none other than Flying Lotus. Not a bad bunch of friends, eh?

I see INNANETAPE as being Vic Mensa's own version of 10 Day by Chance The Rapper. This of course isn't an offensive claim by any stretch of the imagination, but it just lacks a certain something, and although we hear moments of musical genius coming through on the tape, Mensa hasn't quite produced the finished product that we were oh so eagerly waiting to hear. Is it his flow? No. Is it his lyrics? Certainly not. Is it his choice of beat production? He's got Thundercat producing his tracks, are you fucking kidding me?! The only thing that Vic Mensa lacks, in my opinion, is direction; the tracks jump around too much for my liking, but considering that this is his second recognised solo release that definitely isn't something to worry about. This tongue-twisting teenager is definitely one to listen out for, and seems set to follow in Chance's footsteps by highlighting the dexterous and thoughtful side of Chi-Town rap.

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