Interview: Vic Mensa Talks Going Rock and Crafting Beats for Kanye West

The world is making a big shift this year — the rap world, that is. One of the core people making this happen is Chicago native, Vic Mensa. At just 20-years-old, the Windy City emcee has already made a name for himself as both a core member of the former rap group Kids These Days and a capable solo act in his own right. His 2013 breakout mixtape, INNANETAPE, has already got people eager to hear more — and he’s definitely got a lot left to bring to his budding fan base.

Fresh off touring alongside electronic music duo Disclosure, we caught up with Vic Mensa as he prepped a dope show at New York City music venue SOBs. He sat down with us to discuss the record label he plans to get up off the ground this year, his dreams of working with Gwen Stefani and Prince, and a song he made exclusively for the reigning King of Chicago rap, Kanye West. Get a quick glimpse at what Vic has in store for 2014.

With all these big performances you got lined up from SXSW to the 2014 Woodie Awards, how do you get in the right mindset to put on a good show?

Getting in the vibe of performances [for me] is just clowning and going about it like I always do. I just came off a tour doing shows every night and I grew a love for it. Why not be great at it?

Speaking of being on the road, how does the normal Disclosure crowd compare to what you’re used to?

I wouldn’t say there was a big difference from their audience and the one I’m used to. My audience is so diverse. I’ve performed in front of so many types of crowds, and Disclosure’s audience is great. They came to have fun. To me, that’s the biggest part. It’s not like some of these rap shows where a bunch of rappers are looking at you like, “My homie can rap, too!” A night with Disclosure is definitely a lot of fun.

As a hip-hop artist, did you learn anything from their EDM background?

I always take little things from people that I watch perform, but only the performances that I actually like. I didn’t necessarily take that much from [Disclosure’s] performance, but I did freestyle on “When A Fire Starts To Burn” because of the reaction that I saw it getting every night. People went crazy off that just upon the impact. I definitely had to snatch that up, spit some heat on it, and drop it to the street.

A part of your story is that you grew up listening to a wide variety of music — mainly alternative rock. If you could drop a rock EP, what would that sound like?

It would sound like a mash-up of No Doubt, blink-182, and Elvis Costello. It would definitely have ska, surfer type tracks. Honestly, I already have tracks like that, rock songs. They might end up on an EP someday. So far, nobody but my people have heard them. I got a couple of crazy rock joints. There’s one that me and Cam, who produced “Orange Soda,” did together.