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The Kickback: Vic Mensa

Andrew Gastelum | Friday, October 4, 2013

Way back in April, I wrote that Chance the Rapper’s “Acid Rap” was the best listen of the year – fluid, thorough, fun, witty, with a hint of jazz. On one of “Acid Rap’s” hit songs “Cocoa Butter Kisses” raps one of Chance’s biggest competitors and best friends Vic Mensa.

But now Mensa is no longer the guy who rolls with Chance. He has a project of his own now, and he shows he can pull his own weight. On “INNANETAPE,” Mensa pulls together so many different sounds ranging from jazz to electro wave to alternative in order to differentiate himself from his Chicago counterparts.

Mensa has a similar flow to that of Chance the Rapper, a similar inflection to Mac Miller and a similar, intriguing flair for the weird to that of an Earl Sweatshirt. But with all the similarities, Mensa is, above all, himself.

There are songs that confound; so out there it’s cool. If that’s what you’re into, see “Tweakin'” featuring Chance The Rapper. As Mensa opens, “it sounds like Ray J and Chris Brown in a celebrity death-match,” and he is not far off. The track is pretty simplistic with one humming synth and a ranging reverb while Mensa and Chance drop the slickest of rhymes. It sounds as if Mensa went into Odd Future headquarters and came away with a choice beat (also see “RUN!” featuring Thundercat.

There are songs that inspire. “Yap Yap” has the charisma of a young Kid Cudi with a quick-witted sequence of syllables and sentences and the occasional statement. In “Magic,” Mensa refers to himself as magic, posing the standard “Do you believe in Magic” question in an original way. The beauty of these songs is the beats fall by the wayside as it becomes more of a poem than anything else. Lyrics are what really matter.

There are songs that weigh on you. “Holy Holy” featuring Top Dawg Entertainment standout Ab-Soul is actually a pretty sad tale with a lighter feel to it. Meanwhile, “Time is Money” follows in a similar vein about the quest to make money but “don’t let the money make you.”

But the best songs are the ones that cruise along. “Hollywood LA” sounds like it could come off “Acid Rap” and only deserves to be played in a convertible under the sun and a slight breeze. By far, the best track of the mix tape is “Lovely Day.” It’s fast-paced enough to foster energy at anytime but also chill enough to play in any kickback setting. Suited with a catchy hook and hum-worthy melody, this is Vic Mensa at his finest. 

It’s not the 4.5 out of 5 I gave to “Acid Rap,” (the highest rating given in the Kickback thus far) but “INNANETAPE” is a very solid effort that is sure to grow on you with every listen. However, some tracks are lacking some juice. But don’t worry, everything’s good.