I’m still a little bitter about the Kids These Days break-up. As one of the most promising and talented young acts in hip-hop I really thought KTD was going to represent for young jazz cats and prove that the standard rapper/producer relationship isn’t the only way to go. I thought it was possible to excel as a full, eight piece jazz/hip-hop fusion ensamble even if you’re not ?uestlove, or at least I wanted to think that.
They had so much potential! They worked with Jeff Fucking Tweedy of Wilco on their debut release. Traphouse Rock was soulful and jazzy and tight and dynamic and explosive. KTD sounded polished and practiced with each member’s talent shining through, both overtly and subtly, to create a full fledged, progressive hip-hop project. You can still download it for free on their website, here. But it’s complicated running a multi-layered jazz group, I get that. Also Vic Mensa is a rising and buzzing MC right now, coming out of a rising and buzzing Chi-town hip-hop scene. His buddy Chance The Rapper put their Save Money collective in the spotlight after his latest mixtape, Acid Rap, blew up and everybody from Pitchfork to Thought Catalogue was covering him and his friends.
KTD supposedly broke up due to little power struggles with the direction and progression of the group. In an exclusive with XXL Mag Mensa talks about his need to represent his true self in his music rather than be the face of an entire collective.
I did some things that weren’t appreciated because I wanted to let other people have their creative say. But nobody wants to be doing things that aren’t appreciated, and no one wants to feel stifled when making music. Music is about being free, and we just kind of grew apart.
He’s not super bitter about it and he stays connected to the other members of the group, but he simply wanted to do his own thing. I can imagine it’s hard to be the face of a collective, writing all the lyrics, and yet struggling for creative control because everyone around you has a louder part in the actual sound that you’re producing.
He’s doing solo shit–rapping and producing. He has a tape title Innanetape that should be coming soon, but for now click below to peep these singles:
DID IT B4
This is a spastic and aggressive declaration of independence and arrival. He’s talking that rapper bravado shit on here cause he needs to prove his strength. “Flowers for your grave made the track and rapped on that shit,” so, yeah, he produced this too, which is pretty cool. The beat is super rough and effect-heavy, allowing Mensa to be rabid, wild, and free-versed lyrically. It’s a clear and deliberate move away from the sound and style he spit with KTD. Though Mensa delivers with the same high energy we saw from him on stand-out tracks like Don’t Harsh My Mellow, weaving intertwined rhymes in and out of the beat, rambling in rhythm and blazing his way out.
Dropped on 5/30/13, Mensa delivers a lighter, smoked-out, summer jam to contrast the force of DID IT B4. Praise is due to the Kenan & Kel intro, which immediately sets his target audience, because if you don’t appreciate a 90s throwback Nickelodeon reference and Kel’s love affair with Orange Soda then fuck off. This track is sweet and sultry, bright and bouncy. Mensa gets funky, spinning circles with flows, taking tips from his dude Chance, getting more dynamic and playful with his vocal range. The variance between these two tracks is a testament to his versatility as an MC. The track comes accompanied by smooth visuals of an orange accented Chicago rooftop performance and bokin’ smoles of that greenery.
Vic Mensa is undoubtedly charged and ready to release himself and his work to the world. He’s built up a hefty, young fan base with Kids These Days and he’s got a huge, relevant, and creative SAVE MONEY collective supporting his moves. He’s got two drastically different singles out, both impressive displays of lyrical and musical dynamics and talent. Look out for Innanetape when it drops, and keep your eyes and ears out for more work from the rising Chicago MC.