Music Video: Vic Mensa’s Incendiary Protest Song, “16 Shots”

by flaunt

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Photographed by Jake Osmun
Styled by Zoe Costello
Music Video: Vic Mensa’s Incendiary Protest Song, “16 Shots”


Rap and hip hop have become the protest poetry of our time, with voices like Kendrick Lamar, Vince Staples, and Run the Jewels making music that has become one of the culture's most potent ways to speak truth to power. Twenty-three year old Chicago-based rapper Vic Mensa's new video, "16 Shots", is a powerful statement in this tradition, and one of the most explosive and direct indictments of a broken system yet.

There's no equivocation here. From the title that refers to the 16 shots fired at Laquan McDonald, the Chicago teen killed by a police officer from over ten feet away while carrying a knife and who was then shot repeatedly while he lay on the ground, to the lyrics--"I can't imagine if it was my own mama / Got her first born son stole from her, he never had a chance / And we all know its cause he black / Shot 'em 16 times, how fucked up is that?"--to the imagery of the music video, which devastatingly mixes interpretive dance with dash-cam footage of the McDonald shooting, Mensa makes his feelings perfectly clear.

The sense of anger and despair expressed in the video are almost overwhelming, and it leaves you wondering if there is any light at the end of the tunnel. I ask Vic (whom we have spoken with before) if he has any hope that peace will prevail in the future. "I think we're a long way from peace but I am definitely hopeful for the future," he replies. "We need to look at the root causes of our issues: disinvestment in education, lack of employment opportunities, mass incarceration and so many other ills in the inner city. That's why I put real messages in my music--because I'm hopeful and I believe we can create change and make the world a better place." Maybe in the future today's music will be seen as an important step on that path.

Vic will be performing "16 Shots" tonight (11/7/16) on the Jimmy Kimmel show at 9:35 PT.


Video Directed by Ace Norton
Director of Photography: Alexander Alexandrov
Written by Sid Feddema