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Vic Mensa - Victor (Album Review)

Wednesday, 27 September 2023 Written by Jack Terry

Photo: Biz 3 Publicity

In the six years since the release of ‘The Autobiography’, Vic Mensa has stood on shifting sands, with drugs, the law and changing creative tastes all in play. He looked inward, dabbled in short-form releases and side-projects, and found a new lease of life that his second album ‘Victor’ chronicles with varying rates of success.

Following a dramatic monologue in which he compares himself to ancient Egyptian deity Osiris for how he picked up the pieces and resurrected himself, the title track is a jubilant introduction to the new age of Vic Mensa. “And I tried to tell you that I'm not gon' stop / I was down bad, still came out on top,” he exclaims, exemplifying the congratulatory and braggadocious air that emanates from this album. Mensa is clearly feeling himself.

When Vic is on his game, he produces solid gold. Lvln Up is an energetic snapshot of everything he is capable of, but his pen is sharpest when he holds a magnifying glass up to his own struggles.

“Imagine me lovin' what I see when the mirror look at me,” he raps on Blue Eyes, a stunning and thought-provoking account of how “internalised self-hatred with racism in society is as American as Apple pies.” 

However, its insights make the Ty Dolla $ign-featuring porn-disco closer Eastside Girl a disappointing ending to the album, with grossly reductive lyrics needing to be consigned to the bin right away. 

Throughout, the insistence on string-led passages being woven in among hard club ragers gives a chimeric quality that makes the album feel unfocused. Also clumsy are the album's more eye-rolling lyrics, like The Weeping Poet's “life is short with a sense of humour, think Gary Coleman.” 

Six years is a long time to wait for a full length follow up and for the most part, ‘Victor’ repays patient fans handsomely. While a few missteps drag this down, it does reveal a rapper with a very high ceiling.


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