Vic Mensa Is Beaten & Shot By Police In His New Video, But He Won’t Stay Down
Since its earliest days, Hip-Hop has been used as a voice for the people. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five delivered “The Message.” Chuck D called Rap the Black CNN. Common spoke for “The People.” Never, in its 40-year history, however, have more artists used their platform to speak out against social injustice than the last few years, since Trayvon Martin’s death drew a renewed focus on the killing of unarmed Black citizens by police officers and vigilantes, alike, often with impunity. Some dedicated songs to the cause where others, like J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and, recently, T.I. created entire projects lamenting the pain being endured by Blacks across the entire nation. Recently, Roc Nation’s Vic Mensa joined the latter group with his raw, honest and deeply powerful EP, There’s A Lot Going On.
The EP’s lead single was “16 Shots,” a reference to the 16 shots fired by police officer Jason Van Dyke that fatally wounded 17-year old Laquan McDonald in the same Chicago streets in which Mensa was raised. McDonald was shot from approximately 10 feet away, though he was only in possession of a knife, and then was shot several more times as he lay lifeless on the ground. The song is caustic and charged, in its detailing of the disturbing incident. On the EP’s cover, Mensa is shown surrounded by bullet holes, with a target superimposed on his torso.
The powerful symbolism Mensa displays on his song and in his artwork is exceeded by the visuals he has released for “16 Shots.” Vic is shown walking the streets of Chicago wearing a black sweatshirt with the word “RESIST” emblazoned on it, in white letters. On his journey, Mensa sees Black men hanging from nooses and has 3 extremely violent encounters with police officers. In the first exchange, he is savagely beaten by 3 officers, but when it is done, he rises. During the second encounter, he is tasered, but soldiers on. In the final standoff, Mensa is met by nearly 10 officers who open up on him with a firestorm of bullets. Blood graphically explodes from his body, as he is shot again and again and again. In the end, he simply refuses to die.
Throughout the video, footage from Officer Van Dyke’s police car from that fateful night is intercut, including the actual shooting, at the end. McDonald never rose again.