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Tarantino's Thoughts:

Whether we're talking about the recent tragedy in Orlando, the horrendous water crises in Flint, the unwarranted killing of Eric Garner, the lack of discretion that resulted in the death of Sandra Bland; Trayvon, Laquan, Tamir; atrocious calamities have struck ever too often and quite frankly, There's Alot Going On.  Reflecting on a conversation with friends, the topic of discussion was social issues and the modern day rap artists' who chose to use their voices to invoke change and or bring forth awareness.  All conclusively coming to the agreement that those who chose to stay in la la land while the universe suffers; even though they have the highest platform in which they could start a mini (or grand scale) uprising by just opening their mouths (or even sending a tweet, snap etc), but instead chose to stay quiet, … won't last.  Separating the Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole's from the Drake's (and mainly just Drake's) of the world in 2016.  Appreciating the ever so important dance and or trap record in the midst of this broad genre we call Hip-Hop, the point is not to throw fun away; but it's to remain balanced and in-tune with what's really going on.  And you know … speak up–“It's bigger than us, the kids listen to us”.  


Thankfully in the nick of time, the world was blessed with the Chi-town native Vic Mensa releasing the riotous yet surprisingly serene EP There's Alot Going On.  Wasting no time paying homage to his Roc Nation label, Vic thunderously opens up with “Dynasty” spitting,


“My mind drifts to back before the Chi was labeled Chi-Raq/Then Chief Keef dropped in 2012, now it’s a drill/ I was waiting in the wing like a bird on a windowsill … The Roc is still alive, Throw ya Diamonds up Again.”.  


Bar after Bar, Mensa totally accelerates over the theatrical increase of an instrumental, dropping a plethora of heavy quotables.  “16 shots, 16 shots, 16 shots!!”, dedicated chants play while Vic preps listeners as the EP takes a dark turn revisiting the unquestionable murder of Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke–“1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11, F*ck 12!!”.  Clearly pissed off, Mensa pulls no punches stating,


“You better hope this 9millimeter jam on me, or get blown, I hope you got your body cam turned on …/F*ck a Black cop too that's the same fight, you got a badge bitch but you still ain't white/This for Laquan, on-site, when you see Van Dyke, tell em I don't bring a knife to a gunfight.”.  


Menacingly played over powerful amounts of bass, provoking unbearable disgust; the murder is described in full plain detail by Laquan's family lawyer Jeffrey Neslund as the song comes to an end.














Potent production never once getting in the way of the weight of his words, Mensa delivers “Danger” and “New Bae” over hefty pop sounds that could easily turn any dull party into a “lituation”.  Assisted by Ty Dolla $ign (the only feature on the 7 track EP), “Liquor Locker” embodies balance while Vic sings of intoxicated nights alone via drunken auto-tune riffs, calling and texting, hoping to escape with an unidentified woman.  Effortlessly creating the standout anthem over tantalizing guitars, both trade stories that anyone who's been gone off “too many Drinks and … drugs” can surely relate.  


“Color of morning pee coming out of the sink/it's 2016 who would think? Kids in America don't have clean water to drink …”.


“Shades Of Blue” resembles assertiveness disguised as calm alongside Vic going at horribly familiar socioeconomic woes, while addressing the media favoring nonsense–“that got damn Daniel distracting you on Instagram, back again with the all white media coverage/ They do it over and over like remedial subjects”–outweighing the real question: “why the people responsible still ain't caught no case”.  In a mere 4mins and 46 seconds, Mensa manages to touch on uneasy but pivotal topics.  From calling our women “bitches and hoes”, still facing police brutality despite body cams–“Cause nigga's still getting' tased and body slammed”; to losing lives due to cigarette consumption–“And cigarettes will kill you on your own but they kill you for a cigarette … I honor Eric Garner fam”.  Perhaps the most introspective song “There's Alot Going On” offers (and a personal favorite), Mensa ends “Shades of Blue” in self-examination rapping, “Now here I am talking bout a revolution, and I can't even spare a dollar to the movement/But I'm in the strip club spending dollars on that movement, I guess we all got room for improvement … ”.


The closing title track “There's Alot Going On” opens as Vic sings in penetrating melodramatic rock and roll fashion, “I Never Die, We Live Forever … In My Mind”.  Acting as his own personal diary, the Chi-town representative reflects on depression, substance addiction, and physical abuse; tracking his musical endeavors through it all.  Fully vulnerable, Vic bares all delivering his truth by way of non-stop lyrical fortitude as if he unleashes the pain through every word and frees himself of past torture rejoicing that he's “Still Alive”.


Without a doubt, There's Alot Going On showcases Mensa in a light that has yet to be seen up until now. Explaining the obvious bidding war between Hov & Kanye, Vic artistically (not to mention lyrically) comes into and holds his own; as he welcomes fans of the 23 yr old MC along for the ride.  If I had one word to describe his rising career based off a mere (but decisive) 7 track EP?, I'd call it very promising, to say the least.  So if you have yet to tune in, I highly recommend taking 33 minutes out of your day to give it a thorough listen.  

As Always …

Peace & Love,
N. Tarantino

(Darnell Schoolfield)

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