Vic Mensa has come a long way since he broke onto the scene alongside Chance the Rapper in 2013. The “Blue Eyes” rapper appears on Friday’s episode of the Tamron Hall Show, and in ET’s exclusive clip of his visit, the musician reflects on the life-changing car crash that changed his entire trajectory.
Broaching the subject of Mensa’s 2021 car crash, in which he previously revealed that he fell asleep at the wheel while driving a Range Rover back from the studio under the influence, Hall asks the 30-year-old musician how the crash served as an “impetus” for him to change the course of his life.
She asks: “You said it was reflective of a path that you were going down; what road were you going down? Because you had all this success — I lived in Chicago for 10 years and everyone’s been talking about you, every star wanted to work with you, many people had even started to copy your style. But this crash happens and it’s an impetus for a lot of change?”
“You know, there was a point in time during that car crash that I just had to laugh at myself,” Mensa confesses. “I was just laughing at myself like, ‘How ridiculous is this?’ And thinking about coming into the music industry, you know, it’s demanding. It can be a treacherous place.”
The rapper goes on to share that he had developed a habit of turning to dangerous vices when things became too difficult. “I reverted to the ways that I knew how to address problems, which was violence, drugs, alcohol, escapism. I mean, these are the tools that are given to us as young men across communities, but definitely in the Black community,” he recalls. “It’s not therapy and conversation that we think about, and although those things came into play, I definitely fell into a default mode and I think, in that way is how I set fire to a lot of things.”
“But what I’ve learned in this process, specifically in this album [Victor, released Sept. 15], something I speak about a lot is the power of thought, the power of the spoken word,” he adds. “I mean, it’s scientific that the things we think, the things we say, we can attract those things.”
Looking back on his journey, Mensa continues, “Even as a kid, I’m sitting there and I’m speaking this into existence with my rhyme, like, ‘I’m going to have success. I’m going to be on the world stages.’ [While at] the same time, I’m full of so many polluted thought processes that I don’t even consider how thinking about those things constantly can bring them into my life.”
Since the crash, Mensa decided to live conscientiously, seeking help for his addictions and healing from his self-destructive path. Last month, the rapper celebrated two years of sobriety and “building the best version of himself.”
The “U Mad” rapper announced his new milestone on Instagram, giving fans a detailed update on his mental state.
“2 Years Sober 🎊,” Mensa began his post. “In many ways i would liken it to running up hill – at first it is difficult, but after time your strength increases, your endurance increases.”
“Two years i’ve been raw dogging life 😂 I’ve had to learn how to face my emotions head on, nowhere to run to, nothing to hide behind,” the Chicago native (born Victor Kwesi Mensah) continued. “I have thought a lot about the difference between fun and joy. Many of the things I’ve always done in the pursuit of fun didn’t actually bring me joy, were actually antithetical to the pursuit of joy. I’m at a point where if an action is not actively furthering my goals, professionally, mentally, spiritually, physically… it doesn’t have a place in my life right now.”
Mensa added that he has “gotten used to saying no,” and rarely shows up to “the club” anymore, and if he does, it’s only for “6.3 minutes,” he joked, “but more likely not at all.”
“I’m building the best version of myself brick by brick, day by day, moment by moment,” Mensa concluded. “Everyone doesn’t have to see it, they don’t have to honor it, but i promise you, by the time im done they will respect it.”
In an intimate interview with GQ earlier this month, Mensa described Victor as a “labor of love in the truest sense.”
“The sh*t ain’t easy. Neither the creation of the music or the life experience that was required of me to make this music, none of that is smooth sailing. It’s just hard work. Discipline. Focus. Patience. Faith,” he said.
“I associate the making of an album with a real personal upheaval,” he added. “I was talking to Mick Jenkins yesterday and he likened it to excavation. It’s like mining inside of myself to strike gold. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to chip away at a million rocks before you find that piece of gold. I have a litmus test almost for what I think is going to be the dopest and hit the hardest. When something gives me shivers, chills while I’m writing it or even brings me to tears–some lines will–then usually that’s when I know I’ve struck upon something.”