Album: There’s a lot going on
Artist: Vic Mensa
Record Label: ROC Nation/Def Jam Recordings
Recommended Tracks: “16 Shots”, “There’s a lot going on”
There’s alot going on by rap artist Vic Mensa, is a powerful, passionate, and eye-opening album that brings the listener in with beautiful, flowing rhythm and through the hard edges of the spat-out lyrics, changes the way one sees the world. Vic Mensa’s iconic style shines through in a unique way with each track, and there is truly something in the album for every kind of music listener. While it is an album that’s the audience is anybody and everybody, its creation, and identity is absolutely African American, as it deals with the struggles of being a black man in America today.
“16 Shots” is a painful and emotionally complex reaction to the murder of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year old African American teenager who was gunned down by the police. The police confronted him after he was walking down the street with a 3-inch folding knife. He was shot 16 times. The officer who shot Laquan, Jason van Dyke, was found guilty of murder on October 5, 2018. “16 Shots” reverberates the echoes of the terrible event against the walls of Black dignity in America. The outrage and anger felt by the black community bounces off of Vic Mensa’s voice and pierces the listener’s heart, telling all those willing to hear of the pain felt by the event. The song has a slow build up with a monotonous beat in the background, gradually building up in intensity and pain until it crescendos in the chant, counting out the gunshots felt by all those around America: “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11, F*ck Twelve! 16 shots!” The song drifts out with the recorded police report of Laquan’s murder, describing in a cold, monotone voice the grisly details of the event, leaving the listener in the midst of the track’s totality.
“There’s alot going on”, the track by which the album got its name, is the pinnacle of the album and Vic Mensa’s outrageous ability as a rapper. Another heavy track, the song narrates Mensa’s rise to fame and subsequent descent into addiction, depression, drug abuse, and domestic violence. The beat of the track is blazingly brilliant, taking advantage of reverberating voices and perfect companionship with the text. Every single word Vic Mensa spouts is supported and elevated by the beat; making the brutally honest lyrics seem to come from some demigod whose voice is above the realm of humans. Vic Mensa’s Dantean, twirling descent is capped off by his attempted suicide in his own recording studio. Then there’s a shift: the beat gets lighter, the lyrics become brighter, and Vic Mensa tells us of his conquest of depression and addiction; showing us the path to the light and out of the darkness.
There’s alot going on is an album for everybody. The tracks provide a universal gust of wind that takes the reader out of reality, and, when it brings you down to earth, the world just doesn’t seem the same. The tracks mentioned touch such grim subjects as murder, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and systemic racism; but this is in no way true for the entire album. Vic Mensa also provides his listener with a variety of dope tracks with a mix of varying beats and colors. Some great songs to give a listen if you are looking for something lighter or to play in the background during a gathering, try “Liquor Locker” and “New Bae”, which are also popular. With this diversity in style and universality in its message, Vic Mensa’s album is a piece of art for any group, occasion, and listener. I give this album an absolute 5 out of 5 rating.