This time last year, Vic Mensa was in a much different place. Then, Vic was a member of the critically acclaimed, genre-blending band Kids These Days, who were putting the final touches on their debut full-length album, Traphouse Rock. In May, just a month removed from taking the stage at Coachella, Kids These Days called it quits. Since, Mensa has taken his career into his own hands and focused on the music he wants to make, efforts we saw reach their culmination on September 30 with the release of INNANETAPE. Now, for the second time in his young career, Mensa is one of Chicago’s most promising solo acts. Continue reading to find out Vic’s thoughts on Chicago hip hop’s past and present, what went into creating INNANETAPE, and how his upcoming tour with Disclosure came about.
So the INNANETAPE is out there and people are loving it. How does it feel?
It feels amazing. To work as hard as and dedicatedly on something as I have on the INNANET and have people understand you is a great feeling. I really didn’t know whether people would understand a lot of this music, just because it’s so new and different. It just really shows that music and hip hop are in a good place.
How did you celebrate the release of the tape?
Honestly, I haven’t really gotten my moments of celebration yet. We do all of this ourselves, so when it came out I was online all day flexing it, and we were back on the road pretty much the next day. I did go to the studio that night with Nico and Leather Courderoys the night the tape came out though. SAVEMONEY IS COMING.
There’s some phenomenal features on the project, but can you talk to us specifically about your song “RUN!” with Thundercat?
“RUN!” is a song I started a while back that went through a lot of stages of production and luckily ended up coming exactly to where it needed to. I wrote the song months ago off of just the bass line, which I made in Maschine by transposing a 1-note sample into the chord progression it is now. I originally was taking the production in a way different direction, more 808s & Heartbreaks inspired, until I heard a song called I’m Sorry We Lied by Blood Orange at a party one day. Like the next day I brought it to Peter and told him I was trying to do these running electro drums, and it really just went from there. When I started working with Om’Mas in LA I knew it was one of the songs he could really help me take to a next level, & I’ve been a huge fan of Thundercat for a long time, so when he was able to connect that I was super psyched. Thundercat’s that nigga, he some of the illest iPhone video games I’ve ever seen LOL.
Explain to us how important executive producers Cam for JUSTICE League and Peter Cottontale were to the making of INNANETAPE?
Essential. They really helped me bring all of my ideas to fruition, as well as adding so many ill elements of their own. We spent so much time together over the last 6 months, I feel like I’ve seen them like every day. Me and Cam are on this Cole tour together right now.
You bring up your relationship with No I.D. a couple of times on the project, what’s the story there?
No I.D. is a legend. I actually haven’t talked to him in a while, but we’ve been in contact since I was like 17 with Kids These Days. Just some misunderstandings.
Despite being only twenty-years-old, you’ve been around the block a few times already in your music career. What are a few things your time in Kids These Days and initial solo-effort have taught you that you’re applying to this go around?
No one will do for you what you don’t do for yourself. If you want to get something done, figure out how to do it. Just being in KTD taught me a lot intrinsically about music too, melody and all that.
You just finished touring alongside J. Cole and will be hitting the road with Disclosure soon after. What was the highlight of the Cole tour, and what’s got you most excited about doing shows with Disclosure?
Hype ass kids. I’m just excited to have a good time with it, I’m anticipating that being a lot of fun.
Now it’s nothing new for you to be playing shows with artists of a different genre, but the Disclosure pairing still took a lot of people by surprise. How did that come together?
I was in LA when I found out about their music, my manager put me on and I was really into it. DJ Semtex had started playing Orange Soda on BBC Radio 1Xtra in the UK, so I had a lil buzz going on out there. Disclosure heard the song & my homie Tunji was able to connect me with me with some tracks from them, and I ended up making this crazy song on one of them. Then we bumped into their booker at Lolla with Skrillex randomly and he told us about the tour.
Chicago is producing young hip-hop talent like never before, and your Savemoney crew is at the forefront of it all. What’s it like to not only have your city leading the way in the genre you grew up listening to, but have you and your friends being such a big part of it?
It’s a blessing. It makes sense though. We really come from it, you know? As far as style and music, Savemoney birthed a lot of these younger kids trying to do it now. We were really just always the young homies on everything early.
It’s easy to see what the conversation of Chicago hip-hop is focused on the up and comers of late, but let’s touch on it’s history. Who are some of the artists on the scene that you were looking up to while as a kid?
I remember sixth grade when my nigga Tyrone came in class like “yo Kanye West is saving hip-hop! He makes his own beats and he’s talking about real shit”. Shit was just different then. Lupe came out, shit was just really inspiring. I was really into this Chicago group Typical Cats, Qwel was like one of the illest rappers I had ever heard. Always been a big Do or Die fan, Crucial Conflict, Twista. I was into everything Chicago.
On the outro of INNANETAPE you talk about being in such a different place now than you were 9 months ago; where do you hope to be 9 months from now?
Overseas and running shit back home.