Vic Mensa exceeds all expectations on his debut mixtape INNANETAPE

Rating: 7/10.

Chicago-based rapper Vic Mensa releases his debut mixtape, INNANETAPE (2013). The 19-year-old rapper has worked with Chicago-based rapper Chance the Rapper, singer BJ the Chicago Kid, and band Kids These Days in the past, but INNANETAPE is Mensa’s first solo release of any kind. The mixtape features Chance the Rapper, Jesse Boykins III, Rockie Fresh, Eliza Doolittle, Lili K, Ab-Soul, BJ the Chicago Kid, Kenna, Joey Purp, and Thundercat, as well as production from Chance, Ab-Soul, Hit-Boy, Michael Uzowuru, DJ Dahi, Boi-1da, and Cam.

This mixtape is the first look that listeners get at Vic Mensa’s style. From the beginning of the album, it can be seen that Mensa is highly influenced by his friend and “SAVEMONEY” group partner Chance the Rapper. Aside from both of their squeaky, half-singing rap styles, Vic and Chance share very similar senses of humor and they both choose to rap over piano-centric, up-tempo beats. In addition to the influence from Chance, Vic Mensa sounds very similar to the rap group Clipse, circa 2002; Clipse, of course, frequently used beats produced by The Neptunes, and Mensa uses beats which closely resemble those that The Neptunes made.

As far as the Mensa’s lyricism, Vic combines bits of social and self-awareness, lyrics about drugs, and clever word play to make what turns out to be a very eccentric and stimulating tape. For example, on the song “Welcome to INNANET,” Vic rhymes, “Might as well start at the tip top, give me a moment I’m runnin’ from time/ Seems like I’m tied to the clock as it tick-tocks.” Here, Vic comments on how he plans to just let time takes its course, but he always feels strapped for time; he also uses a clever multi-syllabic rhyme scheme here. Another instance of this is on “Lovely Day,” where he says “Stupid booster used to/ loiter round stoops with Chuk and Chancellor,” rhyming “Stup, boost, used, to, stoops, Chuk,” all within the two verses. Mensa is a talented and very self-aware lyricist, and he rarely falters with his lyrics on the tape.

Possibly the most impressive thing about the tape is the fact that Mensa is still only 19 years old. Young rap artists releasing great mixtapes has become somewhat of a commodity over the past few years in rap; 16-year-old Earl Sweatshirt released Earl in 2010, Joey Bada$$ released 1999 (2012) at 17, and Chance the Rapper had just turned 20 when he released Acid Rap (2013). The mixtape is complete and flows smoothly; the only fault seems to be every song is good, but there are only about two or three great songs off the mix.

To conclude, Mensa has already proven his worth as a rap artist and has shown that he can adapt to any beat and sound good on it, all on his first mixtape. Listeners should expect some ambitious projects from Vic Mensa in the future and years to come.