Vic Mensa, if you didn’t know, is signed to the Roc. The 24-year-old joined Jay Z’s label in April of 2015 with high hopes, as anyone connected to Hov tends to have. “Down On My Luck,” the artist’s first single, was a deep house-inspired track that highlighted Mensa’s appreciation for all genres – a trait which began when he was a member of the band Kids These Days. While we’re still waiting for his debut album, we’re treated with another EP, this one titled ‘The Manuscript.’ This four-track extended play has a couple nice rap tracks but fails when he trends away from that particular genre.
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For an artist like Mensa, blending genres is a difficult task when you’re a natural lyricist. Sometimes when dialing it down to fit other genres in, like rock or pop, it doesn’t really play to your strengths. A couple of tracks on here fit this criteria. ‘Rolling Like A Stoner’ tries to be this type of lit-yet-confessional anthem about Mensa’s problems with drug abuse but comes off as corny. “I got a problem nobody knows,” he sings on the hook, his voice layered to add some extra ‘OOMPH.’ If Mensa wants us to feel bad for him that he has an addiction than he’s doing a real shitty job. The line’s more comical than it is heartfelt.
When Mensa is straight rapping his ass off is when he’s at his best. ‘OMG’ utilizes an electric guitar loop with Mensa and Pusha T swapping braggadocio line after braggadocio line. “We can go foreign for foreign until it’s boring,” the latter hisses. It’s an infectious song that Mensa would be smart to push as a single.
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As we wait for Mensa’s debut album, it’s slowly becoming clear that what to expect should be unexpected. It’s always refreshing to see rappers try new things, especially in today’s current era of repetitive trap. However, Mensa’s forays into other genres have been a mixed bag. The Chicago native has talent, that much is certain. It’ll be interesting to see moving forward if he can use it to grand results.
The Manuscript EP is out now via Roc Nation/Capitol Records.