You want a revolutionary type performance that goes against the grain, while then the Pepsi stage in Chicago’s Grant Park were Chicago’s homegrown Hip-Hop staple Vic Mensa performed, is were you needed to be. His headlining set was one that easily could have filled one of the bigger headlining stages.
But Mensa made do with it, as he performed what was one of the more interesting sets of the day with a lot of his newer material that kept the spirit of rebel and politically charged Hip-Hop groups and acts like Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, N.W.A., Ice Cube and Eazy-E alive. As Vic told the crowd, “I almost died when I was 17 trying to sneak into this festival,” before correctly adding “this isn’t really accessible to people on the South Side. I wish it was free. But not everything can be, so.” Besides noting the inherently steep prices of most major music festivals, his set mostly drove itself as a politically charged and emotionally resonant sermon for Mensa.
With him bringing out several dancers dressed up like militarized police during his protest song, 16 Shots. As he punched his way through the sets opener, which is a commentary track on the police shooting of Chicago’s own Laquan McDonald, that happened not that far from where Lollapalooza is being held. Vic even ended the performance of that particular record by replaying a dramatic verbal recounting of the exact events that led to McDonald’s death.
He didn’t only touch on police brutality though, he also set his sights on the LGBT community, the Flint, Michigan water crisis and even his own demons throughout his set, leaving no stone unturned. With songs like Free Love, which focuses on LGBT equality and even had Mensa bringing out Chicago drag queen Lucy Toole, who grace’s the single artwork during the performance, Shades of Blue (the water crisis) and There’s Alot Going On.
I think a lot of people thought Mensa would end up bringing out his idol and collaborator Kanye West, as that was the biggest rumor going into the night and he did end up doing a very energetic and hyped up performance of their collaboration, U Mad?, minus Kanye actually being their to help him perform it. He did end up however bringing out fellow Chicago native Joey Purp though for a very excellent banger of a new collaboration that the two recently recorded while on tour called, “773.” Which is in reference to the two area codes from Chicago’s South and West Side.
That and a very raw, touching tribute to his late friend Killa Cam, were among the highlights of the night. Like he had Cam telling him in the record, he has the power as an artist where he can undoubtedly take over the music world and with such a necessary, radicalized message on such a big corporate platform like Lollapalooza, he really proved that on Saturday night.