On the eve of Election Day, Vic Mensa used his Jimmy Kimmel Live performance to make a powerful statement about police brutality and the importance of voting.
The 23-year-old took to the stage for “16 Shots,” a song inspired by the death of Laquan McDonald, a teenager shot 16 times by Chicago police officers in 2014. Mensa rapped his opening verse a cappella, joined onstage by Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. A few backup dancers in intimidating riot gear also lurked around the stage, before finally closing in on Mensa in one hell of a chilling moment.
Toward the end of the performance, Mensa cut the sound early to deliver an impassioned speech about the song’s inspiration and the importance of Election Day.
“I’m a young black man from Chicago, and I’m tired of not being able to trust the police,” he said. “I want to have faith in the men and women sworn to protect me. I don’t want to see another 17-year-old kid like Laquan McDonald murdered in the street. So when I hear a candidate talking about ‘law and order’ and ‘stop-and-frisk is the answer to our problems’ — you don’t know our problems in Chicago, and you damn sure don’t speak for us.”
He continued, “Tomorrow we have the biggest election of our lifetime, so you gotta get out and vote against hate, because Donald Trump is a racist and if you don’t vote, racism wins.”
“16 Shots” is one of many politically charged standouts from Mensa’s latest EP, There’s Alot Going On.