The Futurist: Vic Mensa Brings That Ol’ Midwest Swing
Last week we sat down with the aggressor from Tucson, Arizona, Isaiah Toothtaker. This week The Futurist heads to Chicago to speak with former Kids These Days member now turned solo act, Vic Mensa. Vic talks transitioning into the solo realm, his upcoming mixtape along with his friendly rivalry with fellow Chicagoan, Chance The Rapper.
In 2012 Chicago was virtually untouchable when it came to giving us new talent. Aside from the negatively portrayed Drill scene, Chicago offered up just about something for everyone. Kids These Days most notably stuck out among the rest, blending Hip-Hop, Jazz and Rock in a way that had not been done since the The Roots in the early 90's. Within that collective was rapper, Vic Mensa a young artist approaching the 20-year mark in his life.
Much to the surprise to fans and media, the group disbanded in May of this year, citing creative differences. Vic Mensa at a crossroads in his career, wasted no time stepping into his own personal spotlight, releasing multiple viral hits, "Orange Soda" and "Hollywood LA." Vic Mensa's on the cusp of releasing his highly anticipated solo-debut mixtape, 'INNANETAPE' on September 30th. The start of yet another chapter in this young mans career.
From Braniac Society to Kids These Days to now being solo act: Lets talk about the personal transitions you've made thus far in your career.
Vic Mensa: I've been doing my thing for a minute. Started off in high school, recording joints and putting them on the internet. I put out a mixtape when I was sixteen called 'Straight Up,' which received a lot of love. I was flying around talking to labels and shit. But I really just dedicated myself to Kids These Days for a number of years, doing a lot of shows more than anything. A lot of fun though, making music and experiencing something different, outside of just writing raps. An amazing experience that I learned a lot from. But like they say all good things come to an end. Now I'm back doing what I believe I'm supposed to do, with different influences and a new perspective. A ton of musical shit beneath my belt at this point, I don't regret shit. Haven't looked back with anything...
How is life after Kids The Days? Do you guys remain in good contact?
VM: Yeah, you know Nico that's my brother. He played the trumpet in Kids These Days. He just put out the 'Donnie Trumpet' project not too long ago. Me and Nico, that's been my best friend since we were little kids. I got love for everyone in Kids These Days... I was with Liam yesterday he actually helped me out with something. You know we all had our disagreements and shit at times. With us being such a big band with a so many different individuals in it, all talented in different ways and there being no leader of our band. So there's a lot of different pieces to split the spotlight into, so we creatively grew apart stepping on each others toes. Everyone is doing dope shit outside of Kids These Days, so I just feel like collectively there wasn't room for everyone to blossom.
Prior to disbanding, if I'm not mistaken ,you guys had signed a record deal. How did the disbanding of the group affect that deal that was in place?
VM: We had just singed a deal. To tell you the truth I wasn't really into it. I'm not really somebody who likes to settle. It just kind of felt like we were settling with that deal. It wasn't a bad deal by any means. Record deals are kind of ugly by proxy a lot of the times. Like I would have never taken that deal for myself, that was my biggest problem with it. I was already working on 'Innatetape' s--t when we did that deal. I wasn't sure when it was going to come out, but I was already working on it. I was just trying to protect my interests as Vic Mensa, as well as being a part of Kids These Days.
But as far as the deal, we broke up before we accepted the advanced check. Before we took that money our business manager put everything on freeze. We never spent any of the labels money. When the band broke up the label was cool enough to let us out, so its love.
As a solo act you're continuing to make a name for yourself. A lot of pressure has to be building. Do you pay attention to what media and critics have to say?
VM: I mean I read a little bit of it. I'm just really focused on my shit. But with anything I do, I think I'm more about pushing myself. You know what I'm saying? Like I don't fell pushed by other people. I put more pressure on myself more than anyone. Stakes are high and if they weren't than the stepping stones wouldn't be as high.
What is the vision behind the 'INNANETTAPE'?
VM: When I started making the tape it was really a loose concept. I started producing and this was really an outlet for me to make my music after being in a band for so long and always compromising on sounds and direction. I really just wanted to do something that completely represented me. That's really what this tape does in so many ways that I could not have foreseen before doing it. It's a lot of different sides of me, as far as who I am, where I'm from, how I view the world, how I handle things. It's a lot of music things that people didn't know I could do and I didn't know I could do, until I did them. The vision has morphed and developed as its grown and I never lost nor left the place of truth to myself. The tape is a collection of moments that are super represented by my thoughts and ideas.
We noticed a friendly rivalry growing between you and Chance The Rapper. After leaving Kids These Days do you feel as if he got a few steps ahead of you with the year he is having?
VM: He's killing shit right now. I was just in a very different situation, while a lot of things were happening for him I was in a band making music that was a lot less direct. Live music is a whole different ball game, it's just a different game plan. Its kind of ending suddenly but we all kind of knew it was going to end like that. I had been putting a lot of energy and time into that. I was just on a different path.
We spoke about labels earlier. As a solo artist are you backing off signing to a major?
VM: I think its all about working with people that understand and are capable and willing to facilitate the visions you have. Whether that manifests itself into a major label it's all relative to those key points. There is a lot of stuff you can do without a [major label] and there is plenty of things they have that can help. Whatever situation it is, it has to be the right people.
Can we speak on the misconceptions of the Chicago Hip-Hop scene?
VM: I think the biggest misconception is that things are one dimensional here. It goes further past the violence that undoubtedly exists. From the Drill and Trap side, what these artists are speaking with is a side of the truth. But in no way is that the end-all-be-all for Chicago Hip-Hop. That is just one aspect of Chicago Hip-Hop that is focused on. Is there a lot of violence here? Yes... yet it is a beautiful place, of course.
What's going on with you and the LAPD? I heard some wild stuff about them running up on you a few times.
Yeah man! F--- the Rap police. Those n---a's can suck my d--k. They keep running up on me at LAX, matter fact the last two times I flew out to LA I been stopped. By the same plain clothes officers, asking me about money and drugs and what is in my bag and shit. Just really harassing me and shit. So the first time I get off the plane and I'm walking, maybe I had a hood on or some shit. They spotted me Trayvon-ing, so dude stops me and starts talking to me, asking questions before he even pulled a badge out. So I tried to pop off a little on him figuring it was some weird bum or something.
Then he whipped the badge out and began asking... "You got any money on you? You got any drugs in the bags? Tell me how much drugs are in the bag. You got weed? I'm not even tripping on the weed, how much money you got on you? You ever been arrested before? You travel with money a lot?
He had to let me go because I had nothing on me. Next time I came back, I was on a different airline. My boy pulled up outside the terminal in his Lexus, so I threw my bag in the back seat. As soon as I turned around it was the same motherf----r's, in my face asking me stupid ass questions. He asked if he had seen me before, playing dumb knowing damn well he stopped me the last time. Maybe they just wanted the 'INNANETTAPE' they probably wanted a CD or some shit (laughing).