By: Jacqueline Nunez
Vic Mensa is a young Chicago artist, who at the age of 24 uses his album to speak out about the violence and the deaths of young people in the city. He makes himself an integral part to Chicago culture, using the album to reveal his own views as a native Chicagoan. Vic features artist such as Joey Purp, Chief Keef, Ty Dolla $ign, The-Dream, and more. Vic began to make himself more recognized after signing with Jay-Z’s on Roc Nation label back in 2015. After first co-founding the SAVEMONEY collective and releasing his 2 mixtapes his audience grew. Now, he stands in front of us with a brand new album The Autobiography.
“Say I didn’t” is the first track on the album. In this track he talks about how he often told people he was gonna make it big and no one really believed him and now he’s able to say “Didn’t I tell you we was gon’ make it to the top nigga?” Then he goes off to talk about his hometown and whenever he thought about Chicago he thought about how he was missing out on some stuff with his friends but he was stuck in the studio trying to make it big. The times he did end up coming back to Chicago was for funerals. He raps “I jumped on the first plane when Nikko dad died.”
Vic uses “Memories on 47th St.” to share his story with his audience and talk about the things he had to go through in order to make it to where he is now. He starts with his childhood and his parents, to talking about the hood and teachers, to the time he fell from a bridge trying to sneak into Lollapalooza and he was shocked and could have died. A few years later and Vic himself is performing at Lollapalooza and sharing his story about growing up on the Southside.
Album track, “Homewrecker” is based on one of Vic’s past relationships, where he speaks about a time where his then girlfriend might have caught him cheating, and the times he fucked up, when it turned out that he’s actually a homewrecker. “And then police come in the crib, looking all out the window/And shorty come out the bathroom, mad as a schitzo/I wanna speak to her, but as a minority/I had to hide the weed first, that’s a priority … I knew we hit rock bottom as we laid on the floor,” he raps. Vic has always been very open about social injustice and although this is not the songs main focus, he mentions the fact that although the police comes to his house to moderate the fight he has to stay alert and think about the fact that he is a minority and if found with in possession of weed he would not be let loose. “Gorgeous” the album’s fifth track drives even deeper into his past relationship, where we see him opening up even more about the fact that he was seeing two girls at the time. “Then she seen my side piece in the front seat, uh-oh/ (Nigga who the hell is this?) Here we go/ Why you gotta turn up everywhere we go?/ How my ex turn up everywhere we go?/ It ain’t my fault that I want you both.” “Gorgeous” coming directly after “Homewrecker” shows us a bit of a timeline and what he was thinking after the events.
“Wings” by Vic featuring Saul Williams and Pharrell Williams, discusses what seems to be suicide and Vic “spreading his wings and jumping.” The song can be both about the times that Vic may have thought about committing suicide, whether it was through overdosing or jumping or how he is spreading his wings and letting go of the old Vic, who is progressing to be someone better through his music.
The song “We Could Be Free” first debuted in 2016 in paris when Vic opened for Justin Bieber’s purpose tour. This song has a more serene feeling from the rest of the album. He moves away from the social injustice and the heartbreaks for a bit, and instead talks about trying to persevere and turn out to be different from what everyone expects from him, no matter what the cost may be and no matter how many hard times hell have to go through. “I feel like Jadakiss everytime I watch the news/What the fuck I got to lose?/So I’m down to bleed if it means things improve/You fools, saying ‘all lives matter’/But it’s Black lives you refuse include.” He speaks about racial profiling and what a big role it sadly plays in the lives of many, but how his hope for better days shall not be lost.
Overall The Autobiography had a variety of settings and plots in his tracks. Vic Mensa really did a great job of talking about his life and sharing his story through a set of events and a timeline. He speaks about relationships, growing up in the hood, losing people and even his parents’ approval-subjects, revealing his own views as a native Chicagoan he makes it easier for the audience to connect with the album.