“They made a list about Chicago rappers and they skipped me,” raps Vic Mensa on “Orange Soda,” the lead track off his latest mixtape. While we’re not sure what list Mensa is talking about, we feel fairly confident that said publication may be feeling a twinge of regret.
Top Emerging Artists – Vic Mensa
Not that Mensa has to worry about making the ranks anymore after nabbing the number seven spot on Rolling Stone’s Best Mixtapes of 2013 and number 34 on Complex magazines 50 best Albums of 2013 with his first solo project, INNANETAPE. The Chicago rapper, who helped found the socially conscious Chicago crew Save Money alongside friend Chance the Rapper, was originally part of the group Kids These Days until they disbanded in April of 2013. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Mensa stated that the breakup “put a fire under me,” particularly so when several of the former members reunited as a new group without him.
The fire illuminates clearly in all 14 tracks of INNANETAPE. It doesn’t hurt that Mensa was able to collaborate with talented producers, including Cam of the Grammy Award Winning Group J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, whose roster of artists include Jay-Z, Nas, Drake, Mary J. Blige and many others. Mensa is able to combine his sharp and clever lyrics with soulful melodic hooks, which he often sings himself. The funky beats create an almost 70’s like atmosphere, which has drawn comparisons to the likes of N.E.R.D.
However, the sound is entirely his own. Mensa has seamlessly combined happy-sunshine beats that contradict the subject material he’s penned. It’s the best of both worlds. Not only has Mensa been making waves with his highly acclaimed mix tape, but he has also lent his brand of rhymes to artists such as his friend Chance The Rapper on his own well-received album, Acid Rap, where he states, “And I still get jealous of Vic, and Vic’s still jealous of me.” While the two Save Money Crew rappers muse over one another’s success, it only pushes them to work harder on sharpening their MC skills, almost guaranteeing that both will only be better as time goes on.
Along with his own occasional solo shows, Vic Mensa has accompanied J. Cole on the “What Dreams May Come Tour” of 2013, and joined Disclosure on the American leg of their winter tour in January. Now he will be accompanying Danny Brown on his European tour, starting in February.
With all of this accomplished happening so suddenly, it’s no wonder that Vic Mensa has cropped up as one of our top emerging artists. They made a list of Chicago rappers and forgot to pick him and we won’t be caught doing the same. You can guarantee by summertime his anthems will be played with the windows rolled down, soaking in the sunshine vibes of some of the greatest tracks to come out of Chicago.
Watch Vic Mensa perform live with tickets from Rukkus!
Article by Raefa Alsalah