Vic Mensa's genre-blending INNANETAPE might be his official introduction for listeners who only know him as part of the now disbanded Chicago-based group Kids These Days. But it was actually a night of celebration and antics with those former band members that give birth to Mensa's latest project.
"The inspiration came from me tweakin' one night with a lot of friends at my homegirl's house," Vic told MTV News of the project, led by the singles "Orange Soda," "Time is Money" and "Hollywood LA." "It was actually the night that Kids These Days' Traphouse Rock album had just finished mastering and we [wanted to] go get out of our minds, and listen to it front to back."
And, apparently, even when you're tweakin', a little WiFi still comes in handy. "I was just [asking] my friend, 'yo do you have the Internet?' because it was her house. And she was like 'I am the Internet.' His response? "Hell no, you're not the Internet girl, I'm the Internet. And from then on I was the Internet. So I just kept running with it."
With a title down, the only thing left to do was start recording. Vic hit the studio the following day to get working on early tracks like "Hollywood LA" with producer and friend Cam, but he still had plenty of inspiration left on that first night.
"'Hollywood LA' was one of the first songs I made that actually stayed on the tape, but I thought I made the whole INNANETAPE, the night I decided I was the Internet," he said laughing. "I recorded like six consecutive Photo Booth freestyles and some of them was real hot. I said some stupid hot stuff, and I was like on Twitter like 'INNANETAPE, coming out tomorrow.' "
Obviously things didn't quite turn out that way, but Vic began work on the project at the end of 2012, and on September 30 he debuted 14 tracks with production from the likes of Peter Cottontale, Boi-1da, Michael Uzowuru and Christian Rich with features from Ab-Soul, Chance the Rapper, Rockie Fresh, Kenna and more.
Over the course of INNANETAPE — where Vic raps about everything from his early misadventures with labels offering him $3,500 deals to corrupt politicians in Chicago and more abstract ruminations about "what if" — it's clear that his musical tastes aren't restricted to the spectrum of hip-hop.
Born to a Ghanaian father and a Caucasian mother bred in New York, Vic explained that growing up on the predominantly African American Southside of Chicago, but attending school on the North Side, meant that he was exposed to a variety of people and music during childhood. He spent his earlier years geeking out on Nirvana, Guns N' Roses, the Rolling Stones and AC/DC before a passion for skateboarding pointed him in the direction of hip-hop tracks like KRS-One's "Step Into A World (Rapture's Delight)" around the fifth grade.
That's on INNANETAPE, where you'll hear him pay tribute to rap greats like A Tribe Called Quest while making reference to the Black Keys — oh, and not to mention he's gearing up to tour with electronic producers Disclosure in January.
Naturally, the major labels are out for a deal, but don't expect any permanent ink to dry soon.
"At this point anybody can make music — anybody can make a music video that can make them millions of dollars. There's so much that we can do on our own, that a label really needs to be bringing something so significant to the table, in my case, for me to even really be thinking about it," Vic says matter-of-factly. "There's just so many of them that don't have fresh creative ideas and they're just stuck in the past."