VIC MENSA fully peels off his mask for “Victor.”
5. LVLN UP
I had to put at least one knucklehead jam from this album on my top 5.
Vic Mensa kicks ass and takes names in “LVLN UP.” Throughout the song, he talks about his personal growth and success in the music industry. Vic also mentions being underestimated in the past (“They said I would never come up”), but now he’s achieved a level of wealth and recognition (“Look at me now, wealthy as fuck”). Appropiately, Vic’s triumphant lyrics are delivered with bold, fierce deliveries and are accompanied by a ferocious, mean-ass beat. This negro has enough gas in him to drive to Idaho.
This version of Vic Mensa can put your favorite rapper in a blender.
4. The Weeping Poets (Ft. Jay Electronica)
You can guarantee three things with a song featuring Jay Electronica: Controversy, religion-based lyrics, astute rapping, and a few obscure words.
In “Law Of Karma,” Vic Mensa reflects on personal growth and the lessons learned through life’s trials and tribulations. His lyrics also touch on themes of jealousy, spirituality, substance abuse, depression, and resiliency. As for Jay Electronica, in his verse, he touches on the power of faith and unity, with references to religious and cultural symbols like “takbir” and “Bismillah.” To say the latter’s verse goes over my head would be an understatement.
I think VIC MENSA’s best verse is featured in this song. In it, he flows well (I feel like his flows throughout this album are pretty shaky), hits us with great wordplay, and delivers some truly impactful lyrics. As for Jay, he flows so dynamically in his verse, he actually sounds like a robot with a kufi on.
3. Eastside Girl (Ft. Ty Dolla $ign)
EDM-flavored R&B sounds very good on VIC MENSA and Ty Dolla $ign.
“Eastside Girl” is legit a duet. In the song, VIC MENSA and Ty Dolla $ign have a croon-off, hitting us with highly infectious vocal performances that pair perfectly with the uptempo, almost model-shoot-like production. Don’t let their crooning fool you, though; their lyrics aren’t sweet (They talk about b*tches doing some unholy things). I think the song is really enjoyable to listen to.
2. Blue Eyes
Vic Mensa fearlessly opens up in this song.
In “Blue Eyes,” Vic Mensa speaks about embracing your culture and blackness. He also mentions how racism played a significant part in how he viewed himself back then. The track is elevated by its atmospheric and smooth production, Vic’s raw and heartfelt raps, and the angelic vocals on the hook, making it a powerful piece.
1. STRAWBERRY LOUIS VUITTON (Ft. Thundercat & Maeta)
This song is absolutely beautiful!
Who doesn’t f**k with old-school, coming-of-age-sounding hip-hop records? I especially like this sound when VIC MENSA tackles it like he does in “STRAWBERRY LOUIS VUITTON.” In the song, which is powered by this soothing beat that would probably sound amazing if it was played out of an A-Trak player, VIC hits us with intoxicating vocals on the hook and some pretty bold, assertive raps on his lone verse. In the former, VIC sounds like the ultimate romantic, while in the latter, he sounds like the dude that is so hungry, he eats s**t with the wrapper still on it.
I’ma slap the hell out of VIC MENSA’s hand if he decides to venture from this style of music-making. It’s clearly where he excels.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. Sunday Morning Intro (Ft. Omari Hardwick) (4/5)
2. Victor (4/5)
3. RUMORS (N/A)
4. LVLN UP (4/5)
5. The Weeping Poets (Ft. Jay Electronica) (4/5)
6. Swear (3.5/5)
7. $WISH (Ft. G-Eazy & Chance The Rapper) (3/5)
8. sunset on the low end (3/5)
9. STRAWBERRY LOUIS VUITTON (Ft. Thundercat & Maeta) (4.5/5)
10. $outhside Story (Ft. Common) (3.5/5)
11. Law Of Karma (4/5)
12. Blue Eyes (4/5)
13. Blue Eyes (Interlude) (Ft. Rapsody) (N/A)
14. Sunday Evening Repriese (Ft. DIXSON & Lekan) (3/5)
15. all i kno (3/5)
16. Ble$$ings (Ft. Ant Clemons & D Smoke) (3.5/5)
17. 14 Days (Ft. Mr Hudson) (4/5)
18. Eastside Girl (Ft. Ty Dolla $ign) [Bonus Track] (4/5)
Victor is such an African name. I have so many cousins named Victor. Shoutout to Ghana!
VIC MENSA wears his heart on his sleeve, and I appreciate that about him. In Victor, he fearlessly and with great detail talks about his rough upbringing, his growth, and what he believes is f**ked up in the world. At the same time, he finds time to talk about knucklehead s**t in some songs, like smashing chicks, spinning blocks, and more. While this may seem like a “Is it Oochie Wally Wally or is it One Mic” kind of situation here, I don’t think it is. To me, VIC has always proudly gone through the motions, and someone who usually does that jumps from feelings of euphoria to depressive thoughts consistently. He’s just being himself, translating into an enjoyable musical rollercoaster ride.
OK, I’ll be honest: I don’t f**k with it when VIC dabbles in the knucklehead s**t. I feel he’s too talented to make generic, basic-ass records like “LVLN UP” and “$WISH.” When he switches between Sunday school singer and conscience rapper, as he does in songs like “STRAWBERRY LOUIS VUITTON” and “Blue Eyes,” I think he’s special. He really knows how to make listeners drown in his melodies and feel his hard-hitting raps. Another thing: I feel like many songs on this album sound low-quality.
I’ve always felt like VIC MENSA was ten years ahead of his time. Like, when he was in his early 20s, it felt like he made music for 30-year-olds to enjoy. Now that he’s 30, s**t sounds a lot more natural, and I feel like he understands what his true fans want from him. I love to see it.
Quincy is the creator of Ratings Game Music. He loves writing about music, taking long walks on beaches, and spaghetti that fights him back.