From the Southside of Chicago, Grammy-nominated artist and activist Vic Mensa has ascended into a rockstar amongst the greatest stars in the world and Sacramento has become a part of the young rapper’s soaring legend.
Last month, Mensa appeared at the Golden 1 Center as the featured opening act on the ‘4:44’ tour with Jay Z. However, his first trip to Sacramento was during his ‘Traffic’ tour at the Boardwalk in 2013, where he performed his defiantly energetic track, “U Mad,” a record 10 times in a row – an homage of sorts to his mentors and friends, Kanye West and Jay Z, who at the time were setting records with the repeated performance of “N***** In Paris,” on their ‘Watch the Throne’ tour’
At the young age of 24, Mensa has accomplished more than many artists in the industry are able to dream, and it would seem his trajectory is only beginning. Since the age of 16, when he stepped into the public eye with the jazz-rap-rock-infused group called Kids These Days, his talents have been as raw and versatile as his rockstar appearance – always true to himself.
In a conversation over the phone, Mensa reflected on his latest body of work, his own observations of himself and his budding relationship with Sacramento.
“Right now, I’m really focused on honing in on myself and doing a lot of self work,” said Mensa. “You know, cutting a lot of things out of my life and focusing on the things that have worked for me. That’s personally, also musically, trying to make my music as fully representative of myself as it can be.”
By many accounts, Mensa embodies the current state of the youth, from his active role in fighting for justice and bringing awareness to mental health, to owning up to his own humanity and accepting the consequences with a genuine smile. He understands his responsibilities as an artist in the public eye and as reckless as his rockstar persona may seem, his maturity cannot be denied as each step he takes is calculated to solidify his legend in the industry.
In June of 2017, his debut album, “The Autobiography,” presented the most honest body of work in his career. Certain records stand out, such as “Heaven on Earth” and “Homewrecker,” as he speaks on real life situations he has experienced, while taking the time to share the perspective of those that surround him.
“I think the Autobiography is my most representative work,” said Mensa. “But I think that it also doesn’t represent every side of me.”
Of course, this makes sense to those who understand what traveling the world does to one’s spirit. While his experiences stem from his upbringing in Chicago, his art and activism has taken him across the globe. In visiting Palestine, Mensa was exposed to horrendous injustices, which he felt needed to be portrayed in his “We Could Be Free” lyrics video. Juxtaposed with the injustices of North America, the video is Mensa’s attempt to “paint a global perspective on the nature of oppression.” He goes on to take his message and artistry a step forward in the official video for the song, which was released this week.
For Mensa, certain cities on Earth, such as London, Toronto and Chicago, feed his need for fresh perspectives with a certain spirit that he connects with. Most recently, Sacramento has been added to that list for more than just some lyrics in his 2016 record, “New Bae.” He describes his recent visits to Sacramento with sincere joy and praise, as he had a meet-and-greet event at Exhale Smoke Shop in September, which set off a short chain of events throughout the city.
“I had such a dope time,” said Mensa. “The people were so welcoming and just so cool and we had a blast and they had some of the best weed I’ve ever smoked in my life.”
He recalls the ‘Now-n-Later’ strain given to him by a local friend.
“I was like, ‘this is cray,'” said Mensa. “Then I had the best Thai food I’ve ever had in my life at, I think it was called Orchid Thai, like orchid the flower, pretty sure that’s what it was called, and then I DJ’d at this backroom of a bar in Sacramento and it was just so cracked, like Sacramento was live, I got a lot of love for Sacramento.”
From the back bar of The Golden Bear to the main stage at the Golden 1 Center, Sacramento has shown its love for Mensa and the feeling seems to be mutual.
It should come as no surprise if we get to see more Vic Mensa in the capital of California, following in the steps of his favorite rapper, Common, fighting for justice and sharing his gift of art. As his career continues to ascend in the cross fields of activism and art, he becomes an example for the youth to follow, unequivocally and unapologetically himself. Whether or not you agree with his stance on certain issues, his desire and dedication to using his voice to its full potential should not go uncredited.
Below, you can view his latest video for “We Could Be Free.”
To purchase his latest album, “The Autobiography,” visit VMensa.me/TheAutobiography.
For more information on Vic Mensa, visit VicMensa.com/home.
Photo courtesy of Frank Ockenfels.