Chicago hip-hop icon Common once rhymed, “If I don’t like it, I don’t like it, that don’t mean that I’m hating.” At the time, it was his response to those who lambasted his opinion on the then-current era’s jiggy rap domination. I won’t even lie: In my eyes, it seemed a cop-out.
But then you come across something that makes you feel the exact same way, and you begin to understand that position. In my case, Common’s declaration of non-haterism is apropos with regard to fellow Chicago MC Vic Mensa.
Mensa has been causing quite a stir lately. A member of the Save Money Crew and former frontman for the now-defunct group Kids These Days, Mensa had a scene-stealing verse on “Cocoa Butter Kisses” off Chance the Rapper‘s Acid Rap mixtape. That not only paved the way for a spot alongside J. Cole and Wale on the What Dreams May Come tour, but also ramped up anticipation for Mensa’s own INNANETAPE mixtape.
First and foremost, INNANETAPE is not bad. In fact, it’s quite accomplished. Mensa employs a rather dexterous flow and imaginative wit reminiscent of OFWGKTA’s Earl Sweatshirt (minus the macabre mindset). The set is, for the most part, lightheartedMensa seems determined to make hip-hop fun again. Just check out Lovely Day, a cheerful lyrical workout over a breakbeat and live drums that work diligently to get your ass out of bed and into the world amongst the living. Mensa channels Method Man and Redman on the appropriately titled Tweakin, an ode to, well, tweaking that also borrows a bit from Slim Shadys nascent days.
Its not all fun and games, though. Mensa can get serious, even poitical, as he does on Time is Money, wherein he chastises city officials who cut schools and pull back on public funds while sending their own offspring to safer private institutions of learning. The track further gives credence to Chicagos burgeoning rap scene by featuring a dope appearance from MMGs latest signee Rockie Fresh, who impressed on the recent Self Made, Vol. 3.
Guest artist Thundercat spits a breathless verse on the frenetic RUN!, which initially seems happy, carefree and raucous until you check the hook: Run, run, run/Or face this gun, gun, gun/Nobody move, nobody gets hurt/You wanna walk?/You bout to get murked.And the sobering Holy Holy finds Mensa delving even more into introspection alongside respect-seeking Black Hippy member Ab Soul and BJ the Chicago Kid.
Given all this, however, I cannot say that I was personally moved by INNANETAPE. Mensas flow is impressive and the kid is nasty with the pen. Yet for some reason, his music simply didnt touch me the way others has. Clearly, others believe in Mensa, as INNANETAPE boasts production from boardsmen such as Cam of J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Hit-Boy, Peter Cottontale, and Boi-1da.
It must be said, Vic Mensa is creating some truly avant-garde hip-hop, and those wanting to get into something apart from the glut of commercial rap on radio and television would do well to get into INNANETAPE. Unfortunately, personally, for me, it simply did not connect. That dont mean that Im hatin.
Time is Money (featuring Rockie Fresh)
Tweakin (featuring Chance the Rapper)
Holy Holy (featuring Ab Soul and BJ the Chicago Kid)