We talk learning ‘Sweet child of mine’ on guitar and future plans for underwater studios in Ibiza with Chicago born rapper, Vic Mensa


Victor Kwesi Mensah as he was once known, is the up and coming Chicago born rapper with immeasurable talent and undeniable charm. Set to become one of the windy City’s most famous sons (following in the footsteps of the master himself Kanye West) we chatted to him, as he was enroute for his Leeds festival debut this past weekend. From rock and roll beginnings, to chasing girls with friend and collaborator Chance the Rapper we wanted to find out where it all began, and where he sees himself going in the future.

Having only just reached the legal drinking age in the US, Vic has been making music since he was fifteen, and playing various instruments for a decade prior. Though the piano, the guitar or the saxophone couldn’t tempt him, free styling became his release and kept his mind focused when school could not. Having released his first major mix tape ‘Innanetape’ in 2013, following the break up of his group ‘Kids these days’, to an overwhelmingly positive response, we grabbed Vic to chat Chicago and underwater studios in Ibiza…

What were your first musical experiences? Did you learn any instruments growing up?

I did a little bit!  I played piano first, had some lessons, then in about 5th grade I started having guitar lessons, I used to play ‘Sweet child of mine’ on the guitar. Then when I was in like 6th grade, about eleven years old I started playing the saxophone, and I used to play in my middle school band, so that was when I was like eleven twelve years old. Then when I was about thirteen it all kind of stopped.

What happened?

I got more into girls and smoking weed and having fun! (Laughing)

What did you listen to at a young age, how and when did that change?

Guns n Roses, Nirvana, The Beatles. That was what I got into when I was really young, that was the first music I liked, before I got into hip-hop. But I got into hip-hop through skateboarding, I heard this KRS one song, called ‘Step into a world’, which was like the first rap song I was really into, it was on this Zoo York VHS skate tape, and that was kind of it.

Has the rap scene in Chicago made a big impact on you?

Yeah definitely, just being young and wide eyed when Kanye came out, and then when Lupe came out, just listening to stuff like Do or Die, and Twista and Crucial Conflict. All of that was definitely influential to me. 

You’ve spent a lot of time in LA, how does the scene differ?

LA is more serious for sure, Chicago has this mentality; everyone has to leave Chicago to make it bigger than Chicago. There’s not an industry there. Undoubtedly, don’t get me wrong, there is a huge reservoir of talent there, there is definitely something in the water in Chicago, its pretty unique, really special artists and musicians, but everyone kind of feels like they have to get out to really make it. While I’ve been in LA I’ve actually been producing a lot more of my own music, but also I’ve been working with this guy name Lifted and his partner Charlie Hanson, they make music together and they produced ‘Mercy’ for Kanye West, so I’ve been working with them a lot.

You grew up with Chance (the rapper) what were the pair of you like as kids, were you at school together?

Yeah competitive always! We actually went to different schools that weren’t to far away, but we ran around with the same crew. You know we was fighting people, getting on girls, doing all types of regular dumb shit together (Laughing)

When and what was it that made you want to take music seriously? Who is your dream collaboration? Do you have any in the pipeline that you can tell us about?

When I was about fifteen. I was on a road trip, and I just started writing a rap over Ghost Face Killa, (breaks into freestyle) and I was just like this is ill! I should do this! Dream Collaboration? I would love to do something with Lauren Hill! Coming up though I’ve got some I’m working on with Duke Dumont.

What have you got planned for the rest of the year?

So Much! I just know that it’s going to be an amazing rest of the year. Ill be back over in England, I mean it’s like a second home to me! I’ll be heading over to Australia at some point; I’ve got so so much going on.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Beach house, in Ibiza with a studio, under water.


Words: Siobhan Frew.


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