Vic Mensa hit New York City’s Public Arts venue Friday night (July 14) for the listening party of his debut album The Autobiography.
The album, which will release on July 28th, features appearances by Pharrell, Weezer, The-Dream, Ty Dolla $ign and more. Executive produced by No I.D., The Autobiography is the culmination of everything Mensa has experienced in his life. Several themes discussed on the album are addiction, mental health, and the violence plaguing the streets of Mensa’s hometown of Chicago.
Ebro Darden, of Hot 97, sat with Mensa during the listening party to examine the album. “The album was me being able to look at the past couple years I’ve had and learn from some of the times I feel like I went astray,” Mensa began. “There was a whirlwind of social issues in America and I was just growing up in it. I was just living it and living in a hot seat of it in Chicago.”
There was a period in Mensa’s life where his personal issues almost ruined his life. “I had to learn from it and be able to move past it to be objective and make this album about those things,” Mensa said. The Autobiography is poised to be Mensa’s best work to date thanks in part to the level of vulnerability he takes on comfortably. “It’s a lot more frightening to not be true and honest and vulnerable. It’s easier for me than trying to be cliche or turn up,” said Mensa.
Mensa is a part of the generation in hip-hop that’s constantly being criticized for the dumbed down state of the genre. Yet Mensa is one of the few still incorporating meaning to their work. “I wanted to make some music that could reflect what people are really dealing with in their real lives and people could relate to, not just when they’re in the club,” said Mensa. Mensa played several tracks off the album including “Memories on 47th St.”, “Rollin’ Like A Stoner”, and “Gorgeous”, all of which were well-received by the audience.
Mensa spoke briefly on a few tracks including “Homewrecker” and “Heaven on Earth”. “Homewrecker” is Mensa’s favorite on the album with him explaining “this was one of the beats I made on the album […] it’s when my ex-girlfriend broke in my house and tried to kill the new girl. It was a very traumatic experience.” “Heaven on Earth” was inspired by his big brother who passed away in Chicago. “It’s a real in depth story so it’s something you really have to follow from front to end,” said Mensa. The situation in Chicago, as Mensa mentioned, “is multilayered and there’s a lot of depth to it. I kind of tried to humanize the entire situation.”
The night ended with Mensa premiering the video for the fan favorite “Rage”. The video featured stunning visuals of Mensa on a burning airplane on its way to its demise in the ocean. The visuals capture the the moving theme of flight as a form of redemption for those stuck in the darkness. Despite the downfalls that nearly ruined his career Vic Mensa has brought himself back up. He is now ready to inspire others to do the same.