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Vic Mensa Depicts the Struggles of Chicago's South Side for Visual Album V TAPE

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SMUGGLER's Andre Muir directed the project for long term friend Vic

Vic Mensa Depicts the Struggles of Chicago's South Side for Visual Album V TAPE

Chicago rapper and activist VIC MENSA has emerged from a period of exile and self-reflection to share V TAPE, a new tape that touches on his battles with depression while showcasing profound levels of consciousness and awareness in his ownership of the missteps, mistakes, and roadblocks he’s endured. The tape is a seven song excursion of thought-provoking lyrics interweaving themes of pain, social justice, redemption, and rebirth, punctuated by trap-inspired, sample-heavy 90’s production derivations by Thelonious Martin, Keyon Christ, Stefan Ponce, C-Sick, Hit-Boy, Smoko Ono, SC, and TRAKGIRL. Along his path to reclamation Vic is joined by a rich pool of talent, including features by SAINt JHN, BJ the Chicago Kid, Peter Cottontale, Eryn Allen Kane, & Snoh Aalegra. 

V TAPE arrives alongside a video for standout track ‘MACHIAVELLI,’ the first vignette of a larger forthcoming visual project that provides an intimate and evocative portrait of the south side of Chicago. As part of Vic’s quest to return to his roots he tapped local creatives for the project, including the film’s director Andre Muir and Angel Harrold, whose photography is featured throughout. The film artfully evokes west African imagery and Gordon Parks-esque street photography to weave a complex narrative of redemption and rebirth. 

Vic’s return to the spotlight began earlier this month with an ambitious short-film/live performance that premiered as part of the Lollapalooza live stream. That performance marked the debut of ‘NO MORE TEARDROPS,’ which Chicago Tribune declared “every bit the protest anthem that rap has been laggardly in producing.” Between the short film and the new project, Vic has set the table for an awe-inspiring return to the public eye at a time when his fiery persona and formidable wordplay is needed most. 

Andre Muir explains more about the project: "With this four-part music video, I wanted to create a portrait of the place Vic Mensa grew up: Chicago’s Southside. It was important for me to give Vic a chance to take a step back and return to his roots; highlighting everything that makes him, him.

For all four videos, I use the ‘Corner’ as a pseudo beacon for the Southside community. The videos progress from Daytime, being based in reality, to it getting later and later in the day with things becoming more and more surreal.

In the first video for Machiavelli, each setup takes place on iconic Chicago corners. Utilising the ‘corner’ as a quasi ‘pillar’ of the community, I wanted to set up the corner as a stage for different historically black institutions of Chicago’s Southside. This includes controversial groups like the Nation of Islam and famous gangs. These groups are definitely problematic, however, I wanted to focus my imagery around them because in their infancy they were ‘beacons’ for positivity in Black communities, especially for Black men. Yes, they were problematic, however, they were never able to possibly flourish from the negativity like their white counterparts: Carnegie Hall or other similar organisations, they were targeted and leadership dismantled resulting in the chaos you see today. Larry Hoover had murdered many of his own kind, but it wasn’t until he marched 70,000 Black people down to Chicago’s Northside to vote that he was arrested. This idea of not being allowed to flourish, or fly, really resonated with me as a Black man and Vic as well where he is in his career.  There’s something romantic to it and I think can also apply to the Southside as well.

Each corner has its own stage and its own group, and we purposely wanted to give each a militaristic feel to them, almost like a last stand against a society that has made war against them.

Stylistically, I wanted to put a heavy emphasis on portraiture and using a ‘photographic aesthetic’ to emphasise the idea of a portrait of Chicago. For most of the community, I wanted to show them smiling and being proud in a part of the city that really doesn’t have too many reasons to. There are so many things wrong with the Southside of Chicago: Lack of investment in infrastructure, education, jobs, etc. yet they always find a way to smile which I believe shows the resiliency of the people of the Southside, so I wanted to reinforce this idea of ‘smiling despite.’"


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Genres: Music & Sound Design, People, Storytelling

Categories: Music video, Short Films and Music Videos

SMUGGLER, Mon, 07 Sep 2020 09:15:36 GMT