There’s Alot Going On.
We champion music that is timeless. Music that speaks to us no matter if we bang it in our headphones hot off the press, or revisit in a decade’s time. It’s good to hear music without a sell by date, that doesn’t lose our interest once we’ve seen the thousandth Vine.
What Vic Mensa is talking about on his latest EP, feels like it will be topical for a good while. However, in this instance we’d rather be listening to it in a decade as lessons, protest songs that helped us – as a global society – to overcome institutional racism, and not further reflection of the times. The fact that the subject matter here could be timeless, is terrifying.
On ’16 Shots’ Vic details a march he attended in Chicago following the murder of Laquan McDonald by police. And when he arrives in London to perform at Wireless festival, it’s on the week that two more black men in the United States have been taken by the gunshots of police officers. Within two days of each other, Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota were both murdered in front of iPhone cameras, broadcast to the world. In the aftermath, on Friday a sniper in Dallas shot 12 police officers, killing 5 of them, during a protest.
Unfortunately, songs like ’16 Shots’ couldn’t be more relevant right now. Jay Z, a mentor to Vic, released a song called ‘Spiritual’ on Friday, which has him repeatedly reminding himself “I am not poison” despite what the system might be trying to tell him. The song was actually left unfinished two years ago, but, in an open letter, Jay admits he knew the issue would stay relevant.
It’s times like these that bring us back to Chuck D’s infamous quote, “Rap is Black America’s CNN.” When evidence is all around us, and yet somehow the truth is harder to find – obscured by the media, by politicians, by law enforcement. The only authentic way to get one side of the story is from young black men, and one of (if not the) best platforms for them is hip-hop.
Black lives matter.
What was the aim of putting out There’s Alot Going On out?
I wanted to, first of all, touch on a couple of things that were very present, that I felt would be less impactful were I to wait. I also wanted to put out new music to get that would explain a lot of things.
How was the process of writing the title track – did that feel therapeutic to put that all down?
That was super therapeutic. I was in the studio finishing the EP and I wanted to make an intro to it. Smoke Ono and Papi Beatz were making a beat. I was tired from a lot of traveling and working. I went to sleep in the studio and when I came back downstairs they had finished the beat. Then I just started writing my story. Two days before that, I had written a verse on my friend Kami de Chukwu track where I did three lines of a story month by month in succession. When I was writing that I realised that I needed more space to do that. In approaching an intro for it, there was a lot going on. I figured that would be a really dope way to do it. It all came out and I was probably writing for three hours then we recorded it. It was f**king crazy. Everybody bugged out.