Vic Mensa is woke AF. Maybe you already knew that from his appearances at the protests at Standing Rock last year, or from the lyrics of his new album The Autobiography, but there is no way around it– Vic is most definitely political.
As far as Vic’s concerned, he HAS to be. Coming up from Chicago, living in the Trump era, the rapper’s motivation is simple. “I’m not about bloodshed. I want to see more of my young boys grow up. I wanna see more of my guys have careers and start families.”
If you’re political, it’s pretty likely you’re also opinionated about the state of the world and many other things, and Vic fits that bill. When he sat down with Jenny Boom Boom, he wasn’t afraid to drop thoughts on everything and everyone, from Jay-Z and Kanye, to R. Kelly, Bill O’Reilly, and the Alt Right.
Here’s what Vic Mensa had on his mind:
“It was a great move in my life to be able to build a relationship with Jay [Z] and Roc Nation. I feel lucky I don’t have a record label telling me what kind of songs to make and when to make them, forcing me to be a blueprint for commercial.
I’ve always been a huge Jay-Z fan, from age 11, 12. I was already really into it with him as a person, because his music is so cerebral and very coded, and it asks you to ask questions. I knew him, in that sense, but I think things kind of manifest into reality.”
On Scooter Braun:
“Scooter is a really smart person. I feel blessed to be around smart people. I like to be in rooms where I know there’s so much I can learn. Being back home, where everybody’s looking to me, that can be draining sometimes because I want to learn, I want to pick up the game that Scooter’s got.”
On Bill O’Reilly:
“Bill O’Reilly is a sexual predator, he’s a blatant racist, and just a bigot in general, a champion for the bigots. His perspective is very representative of good ol’ boy American mistakes. It’s the past. That whole divisive, scared of change, scared of future, scared of multiculturalism… is so not the present, and it’s not the future. It’s just a remnant of these poisonous old ideas that made America.”
On Lil Yachty:
“I respect Lil Yachty. I want to say that explicitly. I was coming from a broad rap standpoint, where the nature of this game is competitive. That’s always been the energy of hip-hop. That’s the only place I was coming from; I wasn’t coming for Yachty as a person. I talked to (Yachty’s manager) Coach K… he made me look at it with a different perspective, because I don’t want to be responsible for taking any food off any other black man’s plate. It’s hard enough getting a foot in the door for anybody. I’ve spent so much time advocating for the community, I don’t want to be the one trying to tear down my young brothers just trying to do their thing. We’re in a different day and age where I said that line at a show– it wasn’t even in a song– it was ill, but it’s not the same world where you can say something at a show somewhere and it’s not gonna be broadcast worldwide in five minutes. I looked up and I was like ‘Oh my god, I’m in a rap beef now?’ I was just rapping!”
On Standing Rock:
“I was at Standing Rock, that was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. As a person living in what we call America… we all owe the common courtesy and respect of acknowledging and supporting the indigenous people of this land, because we all inhabit their land. We have a responsibility to support the Native American people.”
On The Alt Right:
“It’s new names for old ideas… [The 2016 election] definitely didn’t make them the way they are, but it made them far more comfortable letting the world know how much hate they hold in their hearts. In a silver lining type of way, it’s necessary and it’s also good fortune for us that wanna see this place change, because you can’t make any significant progress denying the truth of the reality. And that’s the reality– these people have been this way, they’ve been marching and burning things for a long time. I’d rather have a wolf dressed as a wolf, than be dealing with one in sheep’s clothing.”
On R. Kelly:
“I think we have to be cautious, as a culture, the type of abuse and the levels of abuse we’re willing to look past because we love the music and art. I’m forever going to be a feminist, and I’m going to be anti- sexual abuse and child abuse. I’ve got to be against those things, it’s a no-brainer. I don’t appreciate the way we’ve all played a part on multiple occasions of looking past the hurt that people have caused others, because we like the music or we like the art.”
“I believe change in Chicago has to be heavily focused on the youth, and an adjustment into the community. So many things are being taken from the community… nobody’s giving to the community. It can be as easy as shopping local, as trying to support black owned businesses. Take a kid under your wing, and steer him away from a certain paths. Bolster confidence in the kids, and presentation of an alternative… all of these things have an impact in the community. If you only ever see people that look like you on TV either committing a crime, playign basketball, or smiling with gold teeth by spinning rims, you might not realize what someone like you is capable of.”
On Mental Health:
“I try to show kids you can be somebody that’s successful and making music, but your music can be true to yourself and it can be honest, and it’s okay to speak about mental health… often times, society’s pressures keep people from being open and honest about things they’re going through, and it’s not their fault. Mental health is taboo in general, it’s very taboo in the black community, and something that is often not addressed. If you have a broken leg or a dislocated shoulder, it’s completely okay to go to the doctor, but if something’s going on in your brain, it’s often times seen as a different thing. I don’t think it has to be, at all.”
On Kanye West:
“Kanye gives so much in his music, and he’s given so much of his heart and his soul, and his blood sweat and tears, and all of his contradictions. That’s like a real human being. You listen to Kanye’s discography, and live with it, it’s like living with a person. You really feel him as a full human being through his music.
I don’t think I was Kanye’s artist at any point in time. I was spending time around him, working and writing with him, and being in the studio a lot. My relationship is that, it’s a friendship. He’s a lot nicer a person than a lot of people give him credit for. He’s just wild as f**k. But he cares, he does want to help people, and I’m blessed to have him as a friend.”