Vic Mensa opens up about his personal struggles.
Original Source: nypost.com
In 2015, the world appeared to be at Vic Mensa’s feet.
The Chicago rapper rose steadily through the Windy City’s open-mike circuit before making waves with his 2013 mixtape “Innanetape.” That earned him the attention of Jay-Z, who signed him to a management deal with Roc Nation. Mensa also copped a writing credit on Kanye West’s “All Day,” which went on to win a nomination for Best Rap Song at the 2016 Grammys.
All the while, Mensa — who opens for Jay on the “4:44” Tour at Barclays Center Nov. 26 and 27 — was coming apart.
“I was in a downward spiral with drug abuse,” he tells The Post. “What started off as fun became dependency. I would completely exhaust one drug, be it mushrooms or acid. Then I’d find a new one, be it snorting Adderall or molly.”
The 24-year-old’s drug addiction, depression and descent into suicidal thoughts were vividly documented on his July debut studio album, “The Autobiography.” After living in denial for so long, Mensa says, the album is his attempt to exorcise his demons.
“I was pushed to the brink of self-destruction,” he says.
“In many ways, I’d forgotten who I was because I was spending so little time with my un-influenced self. I was always in a fog, and I couldn’t find clarity. The best way to deal with it was to make music about it.”
Now sober for the past year, Mensa credits his girlfriend for helping him out of the darkness. He also has frequent therapy sessions and regularly practices Transcendental Meditation. “It helps me be the master of my own mind,” he says.
If all that sounds like the polar opposite of the clichéd rapper flaunting wealth and living large, then it’s absolutely supposed to be. Mensa is bucking the trend of hip-hop subject matter by tackling topics such as depression and drug addiction, and his mentor, Jay-Z, is simultaneously trying to move the genre into new realms by addressing his own family life in “4:44.”
‘I was always in a fog, and I couldn’t find clarity. The best way to deal with it was to make music about it.’
That parallel is no accident. Mensa and Jay recorded their albums at the same time (the two even used the same producer, No I.D.) and both rappers exchanged ideas while making them. They weren’t just ideas about beats or hooks, but much bigger issues that speak to what hip-hop can be.
“The way [Jay] creates music is by having a lot of conversations, and I was definitely a part of those,” Mensa says. One of those chats was about the passing of Prince, and how his lack of immediate family left his legacy and business affairs in flux. It’s something that neither Mensa or Jay want for their legacies.
“Something that HOV was doing on this album was saying that we have the power to define what it is to be a black man,” he says, using one of Jay’s nicknames. “That doesn’t have to be a pimp, or a player with the most women. That could be taking care of your family, and having a strong family. I don’t have that yet, but it’s something I aspire to.”