written by: October 7, 2013
Album-art-for-INNANETAPE-by-Vic-Mensa Release Date: September 30, 2013


“I’d like to welcome everyone to the innanet, tune in, log on,” Vic Mensa says, welcoming us to his new mixtape INNANETAPE. (The title is a combination of “internet,” or “innanet,” and “mixtape.”) INNANETAPE is the first solo project Mensa has released after the dissolve of the jazz/hip hop/rock hybrid band Kids These Days.

On INNANETAPE, Mensa is trying to figure himself out as an artist, and he breezes through different styles to find his fit. “Lovely Day” has jazzy sounds that echo the work of Kids These Days; “Tweakin’” is oddly similar to a Tyler, The Creator-produced track; “RUN!” is an unexpected new wave nod; and “Holy Holy“ is has similar production style to Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.

The way Mensa careens between genres could be criticized as a lack of direction, but he’s 19 and has time to figure out what production style and vibe he is after.

In the meantime, INNANETAPE is a must-listen mixtape for the sake of the lyrics alone.

Mensa seems like he wants to explain or prove himself. He’s constantly rapping about who he is, what he’s doing, and why. The track “That Nigga” closes the mixtape, and Mensa is completely open about his story. “Used to call me a fucking failure/I bet I’m looking familiar, like damn he really that nigga, I did it/I bet your girl would be, wit’ it, she ain’t used to know my name, now she just call me that nigga/Now they just call me that nigga,” he raps on the hook.

He leaves that self-reflective territory on “Tweakin’.” It stands out on INNANETAPE because of the distinct production and the break from more intimate lyrics; it also features Mensa’s friend Chance The Rapper.

Mensa raps goofier lyrics on “Tweakin'” than on the rest of the mixtape: “Or slapping a paraplegic with a pair of crutches/Or wiping my ass with Rosie O’Donnell’s mustache/I got Martha Stewart cooking yola/Molly in the cherry cola, rub it on your areolas.”

On a more serious note, Mensa raps what feels necessary on “Time is Money.” Throughout, he addresses the school closings and frequent shootings in his hometown of Chicago.

His lyrics are blunt as he raps, “All because the system that raised me from grade school made me the villain,” and “Cut schools, buy guns, but when the shots is lickin’ at the ones that’ll lose they son/Instead they send ’em to private schools and pull back on public funds/While functioning as if they could begin to fathom where the fuck we comin’ from.”

The track title “YNSP” stands for “Yung Net Save Peso”—“Yung Net” is Mensa’s nickname and “Save Peso” is a nod to SAVEMONEY, his original crew. This track is one of the few places where the “innanet” theme actually stands out. The production makes the track bump with a distinct beat.

Mensa is pretty serious on most of the mixtape, and when he isn’t—like on “YNSP”—he’s worlds away from that feeling. The track ends with an outro where Mensa is woken up to a phone call making sure he gets on a plane, flowing seamlessly into the next track, “Hollywood LA.”

The transition from track to track is rarely this seamless, though. Because the production feels disjointed, INNANETAPE doesn’t sound as clean as it ought to.

Most of the tracks were produced by Peter Cottontale or Cam, but they’re organized in a strange way that distracts from the content.

Mensa’s rapping is on point, though. He is clever, though he’s not one for many metaphors or puns. The cadences of his lines create patterns and rhythms that offset the beat.

INNANETAPE displays Mesa’s rap skills and is a means for him to express and explain himself. While Mensa isn’t signed to any label just yet, it will be interesting to see where he goes from here.

Vic Mensa – INNANETAPE tracklist:

  1. “Welcome to the INNANET”
  2. “Orange Soda”
  3. “Lovely Day”
  4. “Tweakin’ (feat. Chance The Rapper)”
  5. “Fun! (Interlude)”
  6. “Magic (feat. Jesse Boykins III)”
  7. “Time Is Money (feat. Rockie Fresh)”
  8. “YNSP (Ft. Eliza Doolittle)”
  9. “Hollywood LA (feat. Lili K)”
  10. “Holy Holy (feat. Ab-Soul & BJ The Chicago Kid)”
  11. “Fear & Doubt (feat. Kenna & Joey Purp)”
  12. “Yap Yap”
  13. “RUN! (feat. Thundercat)”
  14. “That Nigga”