Photo by Nolis
This past Saturday, Vic Mensa took over Reggie;s Rock House for his first solo headlining show since breaking up with Kids These Days earlier this year and dropping his solo project, Innanetape, in late September. The buzz Mensa has garnered since releasing the project was palpable, with tickets selling out a week in advance for the tightly-packed affair. Fellow Chicago acts Jean Deaux and The Hood Internet opened things up, appropriately getting the crowd going with a mix of genres that mirrored the kind of frenetically changing and eclectic backdrops Mensa utilizes throughout Innanetape.
Performing with a full band, Mensa seemed right in his element on Reggie’s stage. Seeing him onstage with a piano to his right and a drummer to his right, it was hard not to think back to the days of KTD, still fresh in many fans minds as listeners shouted “Vic These Days” over the crowd. Aided by inspired back up vocals from Chicago soulstresses Lili K and Eryn Allen Kane, Mensa overcame some early technical difficulties, commanding the stage professionally, working all sides and hitting almost every note of his fiery delivery, a nod to the endless rehearsal hours and past performances the artist has under his belt.
On “Time Is Money” Mensa flexed, bringing out Maybach Music Group signee Rockie Fresh to do his verse, accented well by an extended bridge played by producer Cam Osteen on the keys and Omar Jahwar on drums. it was fitting call to an artist that helped pave the way for Vic and the rest of Chicago hip-hop, as well as a solid anchor for his other special guest, Save Money artist Joey Purp who spit a chillingly inspired verse from “Fear & Doubt” that invigorated the crowd instantly.
Taking things down for “That Nigga,” Vic was most self-assuredly himself, fully throwing himself into every word and rhyme as he recited the words to the song that essentially documented the past few years for an artist that has overcome plenty to arrive at his first solo headlining show in Chicago. Exiting stage left after the track, Mensa came back for an encore of crowd favorite “Orange Soda” and KTD throwback “Don’t Harsh My Mellow” that left the young crowd in a frenzy.
While Mensa’s show certainly is still rough around the edges, it is head and shoulders above what is seen from most acts, hip-hop or otherwise, with an energy that seems to never end. Most issues were due to sound problems at the venue, and Mensa paid little attention, rhyming through it all while proving to his hometown why seemingly everyone in the country has had him on their lips lately. Along with fellow Save Money artist Chance The Rapper, Mensa is quickly cementing his place at the top of Chicago hip-hop, and Saturday was yet another example of that.