Vic Mensa’s five essential fashion week jams

By
Photography Tess Mayer

Published September 14, 2017

Yesterday I found myself backstage at the Coach show in a cavernous pitch-black room with Vic Mensa and his entourage. It was so dark that I worried I might accidentally elbow the rapper in the face. “I can go dark,” joked Mensa. “Let’s go really dark in this interview.”

“Yeah!” one of his friends exclaimed. “Ask him about The Raven and shit!”

We did not go down that road. Instead, while clad in a shearling Coach coat that he accurately described as looking like something from The Revenant, Vic explained the inspiration he draws from artists like Prince and Kodak Black.

“ROLLIN’ LIKE A STONER” – VIC MENSA, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY

I like the song because it’s dark and it’s fun, and I like music that has an undertone of deeper emotion, even if on the surface it can lose the meaning. I like things that are kind of like Inception for music, you know?

I would probably listen to this before a show. It’s very rock n’ roll-inspired, and I feel like that’s my angle, in terms of aesthetic or style—or wait, I don’t even want to say style. I was with June [Ambrose, the stylist] the other day at Beyoncé’s birthday, and she was like, “It ain’t style, it’s just being.” And rock’n’roll is kind of like my state of being. That rebelliousness. And I would associate that with this environment.

“IF I WAS YOUR GIRLFRIEND”- PRINCE, SIGN ‘O’ THE TIMES

I just really started heavily listening to Sign ‘O’ the Times, and that’s my favorite song on the record. I saw a live performance video on YouTube, and the swag was unreal. Prince had a white fur coat on, blowing in the wind, and a leotard. And he dry-humped Sheila E. on top of a giant, reclining heart bed.

I’m inspired by Prince on every level; the whole androgynous thing, the ambiguity in his gender and his foundation—it’s amazing. That’s the way I think about clothes, in relation to my personality and my life. It’s just an extension of who I am, like a song.

I don’t see why clothes have to be women’s or men’s. It seems pretty limiting. I buy women’s pants, women’s shoes—everything, really. And then my girl wears my clothes. That seems to be the direction people are heading in. I’m seeing more unisex bathrooms, and just less unnecessary boundaries between people.

“ROLL IN PEACE” – KODAK BLACK, PROJECT BABY 2

I just like Kodak Black. I feel like he’s pretty self-aware, even if I don’t agree with all the things he says. He said some things about black women [Ed note: Kodak Black has made multiple comments about not being attracted to dark-skinned women], and I kind of want to have a conversation with him. I don’t condone that Willie Lynch shit, but it’s just something that’s been programmed into black people. And we gotta un-program it. There’s this whole division between light-skinned and dark-skinned—the house and the field, that’s where it comes from. But Kodak Black, that’s some real street music. That’s some real field nigga music. That’s probably going to be offensive to some people, but I mean it in a good way.

The song has an energetic type of vibe. It’s for when the champagne comes out.

“BOYS DON’T CRY” – THE CURE, BOYS DON’T CRY

I just love The Cure. I think that their songwriting is so next level, and I really like the juxtaposition between this bad boy attitude and a softer, more emotional idea. Just the idea of “Boys Don’t Cry;” “I try to laugh about it, hiding the tears in my eyes.” That’s real life! That’s 100 percent real life. How many times have I been sick over a girl? But I probably wouldn’t let anybody know that.

And in relation to fashion week, The Cure had crazy fashion. The entire band’s look was really a part of the music.

“CONFUSED” – GUCCI MANE FEAT. FUTURE, LEAN

Me and my friend Connor were at the flea market at the Rose Bowl in LA a few days ago, getting supplies for this collection we’re doing called 93 Punks, which is a collection of customized vintage leather jackets and denim vests. We were listening to “Confused” the whole time: “I get high when I’m confused, I don’t know what else to do.” And that was exactly how I was feeling at the moment! I was driving this huge Suburban, and I was so high! I kept missing the turns. I was so confused! That song just really spoke to me.

I’m high and confused right now! I feel like a thousand goons.