Vic Mensa Is 2 Years Sober But His Freestyle Is Still Dope

Last month, Vic Mensa released his latest album, Victor. The Roc Nation Records release features Common, Jay Electronica, Ty Dolla Sign, Chance The Rapper, Thundercat, Rapsody, D Smoke, among others.

In the two years since the Chicago, Illinois artist released his last LP, I TAPE, Mensa transitioned his lifestyle. The vet is now sober. He uses that point in a dazzling freestyle for The LA Leakers’ co-founder Justin Credible—who Vic has impressed throughout his career.

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How can I summarize the s__t that I survived? / 99 problems; I’ve lived 100 lives / Ringling Brothers, who got life in ’95 / It’s a circus in the ‘Raq, so they was hittin’ each other with pies,” he says, rapping to Nipsey Hussle and JAY-Z’s “What It Feels Like” (as produced by 1500 Or Nothin’ and Mike & Keys). He keeps the circus imagery and double entendres. “N___as love to clown, until you it / Now I’m takin’ over, about to go Somali on a ship / Like a pregnant woman, I just caught a body in this b___h / Flow so sick I’m prolly goin’ viral off this clip.

Mensa knows he is using thoughtful wordplay in this freestyle. “Alexander Graham Bell the way my name ring / From here to China, my spirit is in alignment, y’all lines all fake, that’s Beijing / I can triple enendre with the games, king.” He uses body language to show the other meanings in his bars—from telephones to hairlines.

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After repeating a section of bars, Vic Mensa shares developments from his personal life. “After hit songs on the label / My brother back-doored me, I turned to that ‘caine, I wasn’t able / To process my emotions / Heart and mind broken / I thought about dyin’ often, picture me lyin’ frozen / Inside a pine coffin, open / I be goin’ through pain you couldn’t cure with Ibuprofen / Percocet or Morphine? / Watchin’ Crams shootin’ heroine when I was 14.” Mensa alludes to his battles with substances.

The beat switches to Nas’ 20-year-old “Get Down” beat (as produced by Salaam Remi). Vic matches the James Brown-sampling track with a flow in-pocket. “I built a career off of my truth like Issa Rae, the way I showed you when I was insecure / Fake smile for the cameras, it’s just veneers / This famous s__t is Al Yankovich, it’s gettin’ weird,” he spits. “I hate when they call Black music ‘urban’ / All music is Black music beneath the surface / We sold more seats than suburbans / Wild s__t, but I digress / We dyin’ from what we buyin’, but it’s time to divest / How you want quality, addicted to Qualitest? / Addicted to technology, sippin’ that hi-tech got ya mind-less / I need more power / I work like we ain’t got the same 24 hours.” Moments later, he announces, “Show ya’ how to weather the storm, Al Roker / My style doper / I’m two years clean, this is how I sound sober.

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With a healthy heart and mind, Vic Mensa is still dope.

#BonusBeat: New music from Vic Mensa’s Victor is currently featured on the Ambrosia For Heads playlist: