The RX, Uproxx Music’s highest accolade, is given to the best albums, songs, and music stories of the year. It represents the most significant music being released throughout the year and is the music you need to listen to right now.
Recently, there has been a trend in the music industry where artists are releasing albums titled with their real first names. This includes artists like Fly Anakin, Post Malone, Killer Mike, and Vic Mensa. For example, last year Fly Anakin released “Frank”, while Post Malone and Killer Mike dropped “Austin” and “Michael” respectively earlier this summer. Last Friday, Vic Mensa shared “Victor”. This trend seems to mark a shift towards a more vulnerable and stripped-down era for many artists.
However, out of these artists, Vic Mensa has truly capitalized on this trend. His album “Victor” suggests an introduction to the person behind the persona. Unlike other artists whose recent projects have been good but not particularly unique, Vic Mensa’s “Victor” stands out as he has rediscovered his voice after over a decade in the rap world. His journey to this point makes the album all the more impactful.
Vic Mensa’s career has often been overshadowed by his associations. He first emerged in 2011 as the rapper and co-frontman of a band called Kids These Days. After the band split, he was left as one of many new rappers vying for attention during a major talent boom in hip-hop. His solo debut mixtape “Innanetape” was well-received but was overshadowed by his friend Chance The Rapper’s “Acid Rap”. This led to a lopsided reception among fans and caused a rift between them.
Vic’s musical direction seemed to become unfocused around the time he began collaborating with Kanye West. He struggled with substance abuse during this period and his musical releases, including his 2017 debut album “The Autobiography” and rock side project 93Punx, felt inconsistent.
However, with “Victor”, he seems to have found his sound. He sounds comfortable with himself and embraces both his personal failings and inspirational messages. The album features straightforward, bass-heavy production that keeps things moving along with a gritty intensity. It slows down for introspective tracks like “Sunset On The Low End” and “Strawberry Louis Vuitton”, tackles systemic racism on “Blue Eyes”, and gives thanks for seeing 30 years on “Blessings”.
“Victor” provides a holistic look at an artist who has finally come into his own. Vic had to go through everything he did to mature enough as an artist to synthesize those experiences into an honest, unfiltered summation of himself. This is his real autobiography and it was worth the wait.