'There's Alot Going On' EP Review - Vic Mensa

I'll say this much: Chicago is slowly starting to dominate the rap scene. From 'The Life of Pablo' to 'Coloring Book' and 'Fire in The Church',  the city seems to be resurfacing. For the longest time, I  didn't know how to feel regarding Vic Mensa. He seemed like a decent lyricist with a versatile style, but no real sound. Wouldn't call myself a hater, but I wasn't sold. That all changed with 'There's Alot Going On'. With this short EP, Mensa cements his position in the game: a dangerous man with a lot of potential.

I guess I never gave it much thought, but Mensa seems to have his future figured out. He signed to the Roc, appeared on SNL with Kanye, and is currently working on his debut album. To be honest, you can already sense the musical progression Vic has suffered over the past couple of months. The music sounds louder and grander, the raps are delivered with an unheard amount of confidence, and the content is more complex and moving. For the most part, this is the best body of work he's ever put out.

First thing I want to talk about is production. From top to bottom, it's great. Even if some of the musical styles don't fully appeal to me, the beats in here are incredibly polished. Entirely done by Papi Beatz. From the loud, aggressive drums, to the beautiful, almost depressing piano melodies. It's a contemporary sound that I quite enjoyed. Every instrumental perfectly complemented the song's vibe and atmosphere.

If I had to describe 'There's Alot Going On', I would call it a trip inside Vic's head. Before the debut drops. Before the TV and movie appearances. This is an artist in his purest form. Every song gives us details concerning his every day experiences. Now, the album starts off with a heavy punch. 'Dinasty' is on the run for best intro of 2016 (so far). It begins with a very grimy guitar and the tension is slowly built until a monster beat drops. Mensa displays his skills, using clever wordplay (referencing Outkast, Harry Potter, the UFC) and a variety of flows.

Then, I must mention Vic's evolution as a lyricist. I don't recall considering him as a spitter, but he goes of in a couple of these tracks, talking about complicated topics like police brutality (Laquon McDonald), social injustice (the Flint incident), and his own demons (title track). If anything, Mensa tackles these issue with an impressive amount of realness. You can hear the passion and soul in his voice. It's important to point out that it never feels preachy. He's pointing out these problems in the world (in rather explicite fashion), but even he doesn't seem to know a specific solution. At times, it's violence and retaliation (signified by '16 Shots'). Later on, he seems to be more focused on sticking together as a society and searching for peace ('Shades of Blue'). These are by far my favorite moments on the tape. He sticks to a topic and raps circles around it.

On the contrary, there are some clear-cut mainstream moments in here. Now, I actually liked 'New Bae'. Even if the content and lines seem pale in comparaison to the other tracks, the atmosphere and charisma are there. This one will have your car bursting into flames, as Vic drops crazy, autotuned flows over the heavy production. Nonetheless, we then get to 'Liquor Locker', which is the one song I won't be replaying. While Mensa does manage to display his vocal abilities, the overall song is a bit of a mess. I'm still not sure if it's trying to be pop, rap or R&B.

Lastly, the strong intro could only be outdone by the stupendous outro. The title track 'There's Alot Going On' is 4 minutes of life bars. No funny lines, no wordplay. Just a man opening up and telling us about his struggles. Drug addictions, getting physical with his significant other, meeting Kanye, etc. It always takes a lot of guts for performers to put themselves out there, and I appreciate the fact that he did.

Verdict: There's Alot Going On might be the strongest EP I've heard this year. Vic Mensa has never been this honest, introspective, loud, and obnoxious (in a good way). He has a message to deliver, and he will make sure you hear it. More than ever, I can't wait to hear his debut LP.

Favorite Tracks
- There's Alot Going On
- 16 Shots
- Shades of Blue
- Dinasty

Least Favorite Tracks
- Liquor Locker

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