In mid-September, Public Enemy’s frontman and activist for the culture,

Chuck D, sent a tweet out into the world. He didn’t use many characters but

his message was firm and direct: “Support @VicMensa.”

The 26-year-old has fans from all walks of life. In 2013, he dropped his

first solo mixtape Innanetape. Since then, he’s worked with everyone from

Pusha T to Chance the Rapper and of course, Kanye West. Perhaps one of the

characteristics that Mensa’s most famous for is his ability to evolve without

much explanation. Most recently, he dropped a rock album with Travis Barker

on the drums, titled Punx93. The LP shares its name with Mensa’s clothing

line which recently hosted a show at New York Fashion Week this fall. When he speaks about his pieces, his voice rises and falls passionately. “The gritty reality of Chicago is something that I express through 93PUNX, although you may not automatically associate that with rock & roll fashion, at the end of the day it’s street culture.”

“93PUNX is the brainchild of myself and Conrad Muscarella,” he continues. “We both grew up skateboarding and attribute a lot of our sensibilities and style to that culture. We tried to incorporate people of all shades and backgrounds in our look book to show that this clothing and movement is really for everybody, black, white, Latinx, straight, trans & everything else! We wanted to recreate the energy of the legendary New York club CBGB. It was so amazing seeing everything come together in the way that it did.“

He’s remained open to growth, both musically and on a personal level, especially as it relates to community efforts.

His SavemoneySavelife foundation is dedicated to fighting racism and

injustice in the States and Vic Mensa is no one’s figurehead. Two weeks

before Chuck tweeted his 16 characters of public praise, the rapper made

good on his word and popped up in Los Angeles to perform an Anti-ICE

concert from the flatbed of a truck.

Currently, his non-profit, alongside

NFL player Nick Kwiatkoski, is collecting shoes for a drive later this

fall, meant to benefit Chicago youth who’ve been affected by the city’s gun

violence and homelessness. “I do the things I do in Chicago because the

city gave me so much,” he tells Hip Hop Wired. “I understand that it’s only

right to return the support. Chicago means everything to me, it is the soil

that grows my creative expression, the foundation of my being.”  The

sneaker event, in its second year, is aptly titled The Anti-Bait Truck —

not to antagonize but to make a lucid point regarding the Chicago Police

Department and their willingness to entrap the disenfranchised.

“One of my primary goals with my non-profit organization moving

forward is providing free mental health services for people in the

community,” Mensa shares. “We’ve been working with a school in the city

called Camelot that takes all the long term suspension and expulsion

students, so I am aiming to hire med students to provide therapy in school

for these kids.”

If nothing else, Vic Mensa is a musician who rides for his city, against

small-minded comments from internet DJs and politicians alike. He’s vocal

about holding Chicago close to his heart and is planning innovative movements promoting change while talking heads on TV make the city’s woes, their bullet

points. His day one fans have had to accept that Mensa won’t fit into anyone’s set limitations, and why should he? There isn’t much growth to be had from inside a box.



Creative Class: Vic Mensa  was originally published on

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