In 2013, it looked like Chicago was on the verge of totally dominating the hip-hop market, and thus dethroning Atlanta as America's number one rap destination. Unfortunately, after two of the Windy City's leading members of this vanguard of hyper-talented and creative artists took significant hiatus (Chance the Rapper and Chief Keef), some of the heat and optimism have left; as well as the eyes of a sizable number of the genre's fans. Luckily, like the city they hail from, the artists have continued to work together, maturing an incredible scene that produces unique sounds. Those that were gearing to be big two years ago, are now being placed into positions to skyrocket and takeover the charts, as originally intended. No one has capitalized on and helped foster this moments, quite like Vic Mensa.
This is Mensa's year and he knows it. In fact, he wants you, your brother, your sister, your mom, dad, uncle, aunt, and Jesus, if you have a relationship with him, all to know it. His latest single, "U Mad," is an unabashed "fuck you" to all of his haters and anyone who doubted him early in his career. It's filled with anger and disregard, as he reminisces of his past struggles that helped create his present successes. "U Mad" captures a similar energy that Kanye West embody on "New Slave," which amplifies the older Chicago rapper's appearance significance. There are few things more valuable in the game than a cosign from Mr. West, and Mensa has his in the pocket...telling.
The Grant Singer directed video for "U Mad" is epic. It borrows some of the imagery from 'Ye's latest performances, most notably the Brit Awards, when Kanye flooded the stage with mobbing hooded figures. Vic is seen struggle in a black straitjacket at times, while scientist perform tests. Towards the end, the newly freed Mensa incites a riot against heavily armed police officers; possibly symbolizing the rapper's and people's conflict with law enforcement and those in power, in order to gain some form of creative autonomy. Kanye appears in the video, wearing a shirt dedicated to his late mother, Donda West.
Perhaps the best part of the "U Mad" video is the subtle hints at Chicago, none more imposing than the Bull in the closing scene. Obviously, the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan are incredibly important to the city and its inhabitants. However, bulls' are notoriously known for their anger and rage. Seeing the gigantic beast standing still, but staring directly into the camera is quite the image. You know there is ton of energy he is holding back and an attitude, quite like the Second City.
Vic Mensa is going hard this year, "U Mad" is only the tip of the iceberg. He has announced that his new album, Traffic, is on the way and is due out later this year.