Rapper Vic Mensa once attempted to climb over a bridge and down an electric structure in order to sneak into Lollapalooza. However, he touched a transformer that shocked him with 15,000 volts of electricity. He would fall 30 feet onto the tracks. Somehow, the wild Chicago kid would make it out alive. That same wild energy would translate into Vic Mensa’s electrifying sound, one that meshes the worlds of hip-hop and rock. Growing up to a father with a Ph.D. in economics and a mother who’s a physical therapist at Chicago Public Schools, the expectations were set high on Mensa from a young age. However, Vic Mensa hadn’t even graduated high school before he started making serious waves in the hip-hop scene.

Vic Mensa Is An Outspoken Personality

Vic Mensa at GQ Man Of The Year party.
LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 08: Rapper Vic Mensa attends the GQ Men of the Year party at Chateau Marmont on December 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Mensa has always been a personality that falls out of the traditional confines of rap. He exists in the worlds of psychedelics and meditation rather than rampant party life. In fact, he was arrested back in 2022 after U.S. border officials found illegal drugs (namely shrooms) in his luggage. “My time in the music industry or as an active creator has been so focused on fun, but I realize that fun and joy are not synonymous,” said Vic in an interview with Forbes. “What I really desire in my life is joy. So many of the things that I’ve done for fun have actually been antithetical to the conversation of joy in my life. I’m passing up on fun for joy.”

His fearlessness also led to a fair bit of controversy. Back in 2018, he dissed XXXTentacion during his BET Hip-Hop Awards cypher. Referencing X’s then unresolved domestic violence case, he stated, “The only time you bear arms is in a wife beater, loser / Your favorite rapper’s a domestic abuser.” With X being murdered months previously and her mother being in the audience, the incident caused a fair bit of controversy. In a since-deleted post, Vic Mensa would later address his comments in front of the late rapper’s mother. “I was not aware his mother would be in attendance & I offer her my deepest condolences,” he captioned the post. However, he didn’t apologize directly for the verse.

He Is Influenced By Many Genres

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 15: Recording artist Vic Mensa attends the Vic Mensa album listening party at Break Bar on August 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

Rapper Vic Mensa’s career began all the way back in 2009. At only 16 years old, he started the band, Kids These Days. In 2012, the group released the mixtape Traphouse Rock. The project would feature fellow Chicago MCs such as Chance the Rapper and the legendary Coldhard of Crucial Conflict. While the band was dispelled in 2013, Vic Mensa had done enough to become widely regarded as an up-and-coming talent. Mensa had gone from a kid attempting to sneak into concerts to becoming the frontman of one before appearing on the cover of XXL for the Freshman Class of 2014.

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In 2013, he released his debut solo mixtape Innanetape. The project blended the many sonic influences that Vic Mensa was exposed to in Chicago. From smooth neo-soul hooks to beats rooted in 80s funk, the mixtape’s sound was a stark contrast to many of his future projects. Innanetape featured jazz bassist Thundercat and Neptunes-centric Kenna. While the project’s overarching sound was serene, Mensa’s creative purpose behind the record went deeper than that. His live performance of many of the tracks read as restless, featuring aggressive mosh pits and high-octane electric guitars. This darker energy would eventually morph into 2019’s hip-hop and rock odyssey 93PUNX.

Vic Mensa Signed With Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Imprint

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 28: Jay Z and Vic Mensa attends 40/40 Club Celebrates 18-Year Anniversary With Star-Studded Event at 40 / 40 Club on August 28, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images for 40/40 Club)

While Vic Mensa utilized collaborations with fellow Chicago MCs to propel his notoriety, he was already curating his own path. By 2017, he became a fresh and exciting addition to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label. His album listening party for 2017’s The Autobiography attracted celebrity icons such as Beyonce. While Jay-Z would take Mensa under his wing, Nas was actually his biggest influence growing up. “I studied Nas’ lyrics and his songs and his stories to the point where I was word for word, line for line, recreating them. I would take his lyrics and his songs and print them out and then write a song with the same syllable count, the same types of lines,” he told PEOPLE.

Mensa hasn’t quite reached the notoriety or success that some of his Chicago contemporaries have. However, the Chicago rockstar still boasts hit tracks such as “Reverse” featuring G-Eazy and the groovy “Liquor Locker.” He was also a part of the Grammy-nominated Kanye West hit “All Day.” Back in April, he recruited past collaborators Chance the Rapper and G-Eazy for new single “$WISH.” The track was Mensa’s second single of 2023, following “Strawberry Louis Vuitton.” Confirming that a new project would be on the way back last year, it’s looking like we’ll be getting a new album from Vic Mensa sooner rather than later.