Rapper Vic Mensa joined AM to DM by BuzzFeed News today to discuss the troubling lack of accountability among abusive men in hip-hop, messages of vulnerability and self-worth in his latest album “Hooligan,” and Kanye West.
On toxic masculinity in hip-hop: (watch the clip here)
“Hip-hop may be the site of the most intense, potent toxic masculinity. You’ve got a lot of toxic masculinity in Hollywood, for sure, obviously. I think you take those guys from behind their million dollar cars and their 77th floor penthouses – you take those guys as men – and you put them in the arena with us in hip-hop as men, nobody got no clout, no nothing, we’d be ordering them around. You’re talking about bunch of skinny white boys. And I’m speaking as a toxic man. I have a lot of things to unlearn. I think that I was raised as a toxic man. This is all I ever saw was hypermasculinity. It’s like you have to be aggressive. That’s survival.”
I think that we have the most potent brand of toxic masculinity, in hip hop. It takes so much unlearning and we all make f**king mistakes. We need to all be accountable for our mistakes, and hold each other accountable for the mistakes. As long as hip-hop has been around, think about the messages…Don’t kid yourself and think that music is sounds and words and beats. Music is entering your subconscious. When you’re sitting and listening to something, especially if you’re making positive connections and memories to something, it’s entering your subconscious and it’s going to come out in some way…I think we have it even stronger than #MeToo. It’s going to take more than #MeToo for it to touch hip-hop.”
Messages in his latest album, “Hooligans”: “It’s not so political in its messages. Someone I respect often told me ‘the personal makes it political,’ so maybe in that way. This project I made more to try to encapsulate specific emotions and energies in their simplest form…This record is less of that and more so me trying to express particular emotions…It does start on a revolutionary foot…There’s a song called”Deserve It.” I wanted it to be an anthem for self-worth. As I look at my life and a lot of the times I went wrong and I dissect and analyze why I did what I did, I realized so much of the time, its been in search for validation, filling up this whole inside of me because I’ve had problems with my self-worth to be completely honest and vulnerable. That can be seen by some as a sign of weakness, but vulnerability is one of our biggest tools as artists.”
Kanye West and mental health: “I haven’t seen Kanye in a little while… Last time was at March For Our Lives and he was telling me that more things of this nature needed to happen in the music space. We needed to be having elements of this s**t at Coachella and things like that…I think that mental health is a real real thing to consider. Not just in the case of Kanye West, but in general. Its real. I speak about my own mental health a lot, because I recognize that being honest with that s**t helps me to move forward, but also so many other people are going through things.”