V TAPE is the latest from Chicago rapper Vic Mensa, and though he’s had a rough few years with the industry writing him off, as well as his general dislike in the public perception, V TAPE runs the gauntlet of emotion, imagery and straight bars. Using his penchant for bluntness and wordplay, he raps,(I mean really raps) about a variety of subjects like the white washing of history, to depression and anger, next to threesomes at the 4 seasons sometimes in the same breath.
Through the entire album, V TAPE sounds like being surrounded by fast moving images all around, from the beginning with a proclamation over rewinding vocals and bass that sits right over your throat. VENDETTA goes off on a straight 3 verse, no chorus track that makes you pay attention to what he’s saying. Bringing you in to his world as the oft-forgotten bad name rapper whose lifestyle isn’t as torn-down as you think, flipping from Bella Hadid and Christian Diors, to prices on his head and youth gang violence.
MACHIAVELLI sounds like it could be a beat for Rick Ross, that lavish type beats, and unlike Rick Ross, who would ease into the beat, Vic Mensa raps references with dizzying speed. Every line a reference, as he starts to show moments of his mental state that we would find further along the album as he brings it back to gang violence and drug moving all keeping in time with the beat.
XGAMES is his relationship rap, explore where he is because of the past women he’s been with, carefully juxtaposing his speaking up for women in the rap game while mistreating his own woman. Really calming track to before he goes in on the next two tracks.
BETHLEHEM/SC FREESTYLE is probably the hardest he spit over a chopped up church choir beat, gospel hip hop reminiscent of what made Kanye a well-known producer. Rapping on the history and his take on history of black oppression, all while keep references moving leading for deeper bastions of knowledge as he remarks “ a person without knowledge is a tree without roots.”, and “when did hip-hop become hip-propaganda. All this is Bethlehem. SC FREESTYLE is the darker of the side of that gospel beat, hearing the rawness, and the streets as he knows it, sounding like a walking through the battleground of a neighborhood.
2HONEST is the putting of soul on wax. Less of a song and more of self-therapy. It sounds like a stream of consciousness looking at himself out of body looking down on his consciousness, his acts, and the emotional consequences of those actions, all while SAINt JHN croon in the back with future bass-like warbles and tear-jerking violins. It is a genuine moment of clarity.
REBIRTH is a great ending to a powerful 27-minute snapshot of the pain, the luxury, the violence, and the poverty of Vic Mensa. The album cover is apt- as a great understanding of the artist while blurring the centerpiece for who? Himself? The viewer? The listener? Hope you’re sitting for this.
Follow me @maxedoutcharacterreviews on Instagram and @MaxedOCR on twitter! For more reviews and