“So spake the Seraph Abdiel faithful found,
Among the faithless, faithful only hee;
Among innumerable false, unmov’d,
Unshak’n, unseduc’d, unterri ’d”
— John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667)
The firebrand is incendiary. They wield words and brandish burns. The firebrand stands tall—they are their own master, and through the strength of their convictions and the power of their tongues they lift others to their cause.
Vic Mensa is a 23-year-old hip-hop artist from Chicago, who blazes trails atop burning beats. In 2015 he received a Grammy nomination for co-writing Kanye West’s single “All Day.” He is also the founder of the hip-hop collective Save Money. This year, Mensa has featured as part of Alexander Wang’s WANGSQUAD, and his debut album Traffic is forthcoming. It will reportedly feature production by Mike Dean, Illangelo, and Dave Sitek of TV On The Radio.
Tell us about a memory from your childhood that you associate with good times.
The first time I went to Ghana I was 11. My father’s entire family lives there, so I was meeting one half of my relatives all at once. It was an eye-opening experience.
If you had to categorize your music into comedy or tragedy where would you put it and why?
I would categorize my music as tragedy. There’s a lot of pain in it. But still, I feel like there can be elements of comedy in tragedy and vice versa, so at times I’ll be telling a heartwrenching story with a few jokes thrown in.
What’s the most humorous song you have ever penned?
When I was 12, me and my friend Nico made a song about scratching your nuts. Pause.
Tell us about something you have faith in? Do you believe in signs and if so, why?
I have faith in myself. I do believe in signs, I think everything happens for a reason and the universe gives clues along the way. Read the book The Alchemist.
If you knew the world was about to end what song would you play to cheer you up and why?
I would play “I Ain’t Mad At Cha” by 2Pac and “Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses because they are my two favorite songs of all time.
When you’re on tour how does your approach to fun and good times change?
On tour in the past I really have stopped drinking and stopped smoking so I could keep my health 100 for the shows, so I guess fun just gets way more conversational. I skate a lot on tour too.
What if the good times don’t end?
All good times come to an end.
Photographer: Kristiina Wilson.
Stylist: Zoe Costello for Jed Root.
Groomer: Cynthia Rose.