If you spent the eight dollars required to buy Kanye West’s album “Yeezus” on iTunes this past summer, you did something wrong. I do not mean to advocate for piracy, the illegitimate child resulting from the union of the internet and music, but I do mean to suggest that maybe the sounds you truly want to be listening to don’t include a $1.29 price tag.
Kanye West, a Chicago-born producer-turned-rapper, released Yeezus, his sixth solo album this past June. The general consensus of critics and casual listeners alike is that Kanye’s talent, although still very much present, has been overshadowed by his “off-stage” antics, namely his engagement to Kim Kardshian. Although I shudder at the thought of crediting the future Mrs. West with such a level of executive function, her well planned Yoko Ono-esque foray into the world of music has elevated her and her beau to levels of fame typically reserved for only the most elite of power couples. Yeezus itself was more a manifestation of Kanye’s angst and anger that arose from the trials and tribulations of said fame than an actual display of his talent. An abrasive, growling sound accompanies the album’s songs, many of which criticize the commercialism of the hip-hop industry by way of striking verses that sound more like West angrily resigning from his “job” as a rapper than the actual music he is capable of.
There is, however, another hip-hop power couple whose fame has not yet overshadowed their capacity for making great music. They are not a couple in the same sense as the infamous “Kimye.” Neither of them is pregnant with the other’s child and both are incredibly talented. Sorry, Kim Kardashian, but until you put out a mixtape I can’t speak to your prowess as a songstress. The “couple” in question is comprised of two Chicago-based rappers: Chancellor Bennet and Victor Mensah, known by their stage names “Chance the Rapper” and “Vic Mensa.” Chance is 20-years-old and exploding with potential. His first mixtape, aptly titled 10 Day was the product of a 10-day suspension during his senior year of high school.
Although the entire album speaks volumes to his versatility as a singer/rapper, the highlight of the tape is his collaboration with Mensa, “Family.” The two young rappers slowly, deliberately and melodically rap over a catchy beat. In a particularly impressive display of lyricism in “Family,” Chance describes his career as “buzzing like a game of operation with Parkinson’s.” This line could only attempt to foreshadow the subsequent success of his second mixtape, Acid Rap. Released in April 2013, which featured more of Chance’s drawling, squawking and some
how immensely pleasing sound. A highlight of the tape is once again Mensa’s appearance, this time on the song “Cocoa Butter Kisses.” Both albums are online and can be downloaded legally for free.
Following the success of his compatriot, Mensa, also 20, put out his own tape, Innanetape in September 2013. Of the 14 songs on the album it is hard to find much to criticize. As any musician does, Mensa has plenty to improve and will undoubtedly do so as time continues, but Innanetape is vastly under-appreciated and under-priced. The highlight of the album is unsurprisingly his collaboration with Chance titled “Tweakin.” The lyrics of the song are more abrasive than usual for both rappers, whose topics range from hiding the smell of cigarettes to a grandparent to Narduar, the semi-famous radio personality. Each musician’s confidence can be heard in the song and the result is an assertive, expressive combination of both Chance and Mensa’s personal sentiments and talents alike. The “Interlude” of the tape features an excerpt of Mensa reminding himself, and presumably the listener, that music is about fun. This notion seems to be easily forgotten by many fans and has almost certainly has been forgotten by Kimye.
Go online and download Innanetape; you won’t spend a cent and most certainly won’t regret it. The best things in life are free – especially in this case.