‘Real talk’ with rapper Vic Mensa

Vic Mensa speaking with hosts

Chicago rapper Vic Mensa took questions from students during his talk on campus Feb. 5. (Photo: Amod Mahadik)

In front of an audience of a few hundred UIC students, faculty and staff, rapper Vic Mensa took questions from students and opened up about his personal life; gave reflections on his ideas about race; shared stories about his trip to Palestine; and ended the night with a four-song performance.

Mensa, a native of Chicago, did not shy away from giving honest, candid answers to the questions he was asked. He deconstructed the idea of race by doing a demonstration with an audience member who identified as white by comparing the audience member’s skin color to the color of a white flowerpot to show the paradox in our conception of race, and to shed light on how our understanding of race is a social construction with no inherent meaning.

Mensa also did not shy away from getting personal when he was asked about a bad relationship he was in that he rapped about on his debut album, “The Autobiography.” Mensa reflected on the relationship and took accountability for mistakes he made, while sharing how his ideas of love are still developing.

Race and relationships are just a few of the topics he touched on, highlighting what was an up-close and intimate event with Mensa.

Vic Mensa performind

Vic Mensa performed four songs. (Photo: Amod Mahadik)

The night ended with Mensa performing his hit songs “Wings,” “U Mad,” “16 Shots,” and “We Could Be Free.”

Also in the audience were Mensa’s parents, Betsy and Edward Mensah, who is an associate professor and director of the public health informatics program in the School of Public Health.

When asked about her son’s talk and performance, Betsy Mensah said, “He amazes me every time I see him.”

Mensa is a Grammy-nominated artist who is the founder of the Chicago rap-collective SAVEMONEY, which featured local talents Chance the Rapper, Towkio, and Joey Purp, to name a few.

He released the mix-tape INNANETAPE in 2013, landing him on the cover of XXL Magazine for the Freshman Class of 2014. He then signed with Jay-Z’s record label, Roc Nation, and released the critically acclaimed EP “There’s A Lot Going On” in 2016, and his debut album, “The Autobiography,” in 2017.

The event was sponsored by the UIC Center for Student Involvement and UIC National Pan-Hellenic Council.

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