Chicago rapper Vic Mensa is putting his money where his mouth is.
The artist and activist helped out his fellow man earlier this month. As gas prices have gone up and down over the last months, many Americans have felt hurt by the cost of filling up their cars.
Well, Mensa moved to assuage some of that difficulty for 200 drivers around the Labor Day Weekend. He brought one motorist near tears.
The Windy City-based rapper donated $10,000 to 200 cars at a Chicago BP station in Mensa’s former Southside neighborhood over the holiday. One emotional woman said she’d shown up to the gas station with just $5 to her name, not sure whether that would be enough for her to get her granddaughter to work that afternoon.
But Mensa ensured her tank, and heart, were filled.
Mensa also recently launched Chicago’s first Black-owned cannabis company, 93 Boyz, so as people were lining up to get their gas, he did some business promo, as well, passing out pre-roll joints to ease the pain of the pump in another way.
Cannabis has been legal in Illinois since January 2020.
Mensa said that part of the brand’s mission is to perform acts of charity for inner-city minorities. He also wants those from the inner-city of Chicago to have a chance to earn a living or even wealth from legal weed as a way of bridging the wealth gap.
Earlier this year, news came out that Mensa and fellow Chicago-based rapper Chance the Rapper have announced an upcoming music festival slated for West Africa.
American Songwriter chatted with Mensa in 2021about his then-new album, I TAPE. Check out a Chicago-centered excerpt from that conversation below.
AS: Can we talk about Chicago? On your new album, you mention the city quite a bit and the dangers it presented to you growing up. Your father’s voice is also on the album discussing that. It might be too trite to ask how Chicago influenced you, but what do you think about the city today?
VM: I feel like Chicago has informed my worldview in many ways because it’s given me a clear picture of America and the extremity that is America. And then in other ways, it’s also distorted my vision. Because I come from a place where what we consider to be normal is often abnormal. The levels of violence and potential for escalation that any interaction has is not regular. So, there is also a process of unlearning and, you know, deconstructing some of the ideas about manhood and pride and aggression that we learn in places like Chicago. We often learn as young Black men that the most tried and true indicator of our manhood is our capacity for violence. That’s how I’ve lived much of my life. I’ve often made an identity out of it. I’ve been like, “Okay, well, I ain’t got the most this, I ain’t got the most that. But I know that I can be the most violent.” But as I grow I realize that’s a toxic way to live, you know what I’m saying? That’s not a real indicator of manhood. That shit really comes from a place of fear. That’s what it’s like when you grow up in a really violent, dangerous place. It shapes your reality.
When I was in Ghana recently, I was just thinking about how fear colors the soul or the atmosphere of a community. Fear can really dictate the way people move. In Chicago, we live in the midst of a culture of fear. If I walk outside and I see somebody walking a certain way, in my mind it’s hit the ground and if he starts shooting, get behind this. Then go get your pistol. Do you know what I mean? It’s constant fear because that’s that war zone shit.
Then when I’m in Ghana, I feel just a different sense of peace because I’m like those same fears that lead me in my home to look at everything and everybody as a potential threat, they don’t exist here. People don’t walk around with that same mentality.
Photo via Helio PR