Vic Mensa: There’s Alot Going On

8 Aug


Vic Mensa’s first EP is surprisingly deep for what is essentially a sampler, or teaser, for his next album. It deals with the current zeitgeist in direct and unflinching detail, but without coming of didactic.

’16 Shots’ is about the police shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014. It’s a strong number, boosted terrific production and confrontational spoken word section describing the events leading up to the 17-year-old’s death.

After the fury of this track,the song which follows, ’Danger’, feels like a release. While a repetitive, synthesised bass sounds ominously in the background, Mensa offers his own sex-fuelled, blood-soaked version of Carpe diem. Or at least that’s what it initially appears to be about. Like every track soon the album, whatever subject the song is about gets turned inside-out. Mensa will lay out a premise and then proceed to undermine it — or at least give it a nuance or new angle which forces the listener to keep thinking.

‘Shades of Blue’ tackles the water crisis in Flint, Michigan head-on, before spinning out into a broader critique of state of African Americans, before turning on his own self-involvement and career focus. It’s a brilliant, multifaceted number that expands from a fairly obvious setup into something extremely profound. It’s the best track on the EP — hopefully it doesn’t get lost in the conversation when his album comes out.

The title track is also terrific, and serves as a summation of the EP’s content.

Mensa does give the listener a breather in the middle, with a few tracks which take things in a lighter direction: ‘New Bae’ and ‘Liquor Locker’ are clear cut summer jams — one about girls, the other — you get the idea . Of the two, ’Liquor Locker’ is the standout, benefiting from the presence of guest star Ty Dolla Sign and some great bass.

While it is short (at only seven tracks), There’s Alot Going On is definitely worth a look for the calibre of the songs and Mensa’s intelligent rendering of its central theme.

On the evidence of this, Mensa’s full-length album cannot come soon enough.


By Tim George


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