With all that happening, it’s hardly a surprise that Mensa’s barely released his own music in the last few years – something he made up for at midnight this Friday, when he released a seven-song EP aptly titled “There’s A Lot Going On,” a precursor of sorts to an album that’s still “deep in its stages of creation. ” “It’s been awhile since I’ve put out music, and I just really had to go through a lot of real life shit to be able to express it,” he said. “I wanted to do this as a gift to the people that have been with me for a long time and just to anybody that wants to listen, and I thought it’d be dope to have an initiative that was bigger than myself.
In fact, fashion definitely seems to be a part of his future: “I’ve been dressing weird for a long time, just wearing bright fucking clothes and weird shit that people in the hood thought was gay,” he said, pointing to Raf Simons, Helmut Lang, Hedi Slimane and Wang as his favorite designers. “So expressing myself through fashion is pretty natural to me. ”His next big-name collaborators, it seems, might be designers rather than rappers (he hinted at a major campaign) though he does have music coming out with Pharrell soon.
Still, he’s hardly lost faith in the system: “In Chicago, Laquan McDonald’s murder was hidden and covered up by the state’s attorney, Anita Alvarez, and the mayor, and when it came time to vote, I was back by my mom’s house at those polls, and we voted out the possibility of that state’s attorney returning to office,” he said. “Voting’s not the end-all, be-all, but it is one right that you have as an American citizen that can give you an opportunity to shape the world you live in. “I just think there’s an edge of reality that Chicagoans have,” he went on.
After releasing his first mixtape in 2010 and co-founding a hip hop collective with Chance, Mensa graduated high school, recorded more solo music, and toured Europe with Danny Brown. And then? “Kanye hit me up a year and a half ago, and I’ve been working with him since,” Mensa said casually between cigarettes on a rooftop in Bushwick earlier this week.
In fact, it’s that last trip – not signing with Jay Z, or getting tapped by Kanye – that Mensa points to as the most memorable moment yet of his fast-moving career. “The people have been systematically poisoned for monetary gain by the powers that be,” he explained passionately.